Plain cigarette packaging is also known as the standardized packaging of tobacco products without any imagery and trademarks. Australia was the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging, with all packets sold from 2012 being sold in logo-free and dark brown packaging. It includes only the brand name in a specific font and place on the pack. The appearance of all cigarette packs is standardized, including the color of the pack.
Tobacco companies rely seriously on the packaging to create and drive the brand image. This is done to attract new consumers to their products and create brand loyalty. Standardizing pack appearance by implementing laws that insist on plain cigarette packaging may contribute to a reduction in smoking rates and improve public health.
Is plain packaging a good option?
A study shows that when young people view packs stripped of colors and logos, they believe the cigarettes:
- are less appealing
- won’t taste good
- are of lower quality
- are smoked by people who are not as much stylish and sociable
Plain packaging can reduce the desire for cigarettes. The past experiments on its branding have shown that plain packs are less appealing and provoke less craving in smokers making the health warnings stand out more.
Decrease deception about the harmfulness of cigarettes
Smokers believe cigarettes in lighter colored packs taste smoother, deliver less tar, and are safer than other cigarettes. This is not correct. Plain packaging would stop tobacco companies to use this false association to their benefit.
Strengthen the impact of graphic health warnings
Graphic health warnings are proved to be effective for smokers to quit, but the tobacco industry uses pack design to weaken their impact. Plain paper cigarette packaging would make sure graphic healthiness warnings remains prominent.
Why packaging is important
Since the late 19th century, plain packaging has been a valuable communication tool for tobacco companies. It has become important in recent years for many reasons. First of all, bans on tobacco advertising, promotions, and sponsorships have left packaging as one of the few remaining ways for a tobacco company to differentiate its brand with consumers.
Secondly, there is now a huge diversity of tobacco brands in the market. It was not always the case and a growth in brand families where a single brand could have more than a dozen variants. This makes packaging critical for inter- and intra-brand differentiation.
Lastly, technological expansion has permitted greater innovation in pack appearance. It is done in terms of pack structure like size, shape, and non-visual sensory elements. It creates a multisensory appeal such as textures or coatings to make aroma technology or auditory cues. Plain packaging can reduce risk perceptions and enhance purchase interest, sales, and market share.
Eye-catching packaging increases the demand for tobacco products, including for young people. These companies appeared to take advantage of the longer period to extend the presence of branded packaging as a marketing tool.
What benefits do shopkeepers get?
Trademarks are recognized as a valuable asset of a manufacturer to differentiate its goods from products of the competitors and educate consumers on brand loyalty. Owners invest greatly in protecting and using their brands. They are commercially rewarded when consumers are willing to pay more for such products, compared to competing offerings in the market. This increases the value of a shop.
Consumers depend on trademarks to distinguish products by way of designs, colors, and logos on the packaging. If these elements are removed, consumer loyalty may be affected as consumers may perceive packaged products likely to be similar in quality.
Things to consider when selling in plain packaging
- Negotiate to take back unsalable stock
- Get to know the new look of the package where you can customize if needed
- Pay close attention to purchasing the right and high-quality packaging for consumers
- Understand packaging issues like trade-only and consumer sale
- Train your staff on answering questions of your customers
- Assess and strengthen your security procedures
- Decide the best cigarette layout for your store
- Be vigilant in reporting any illegal cigarette activity like smuggling, etc.
Cost and Effectiveness
In sum, it appears to be health benefits when cigarettes are sold in plain packages. At the same time, there are economic consequences.
We do not want the reader to end this article with the idea that we are opposed to plain packaging. It has cost-effectiveness to shopkeepers as more cigarette consumers will buy and increase the owner’s profit.
However, in any debate, everyone needs to realize that there may be unfortunate drawbacks of health on consumers with constant consumption. Hence, shopkeepers must not avoid a warning sign when selling.