Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, improved education and rising health awareness have played their part in the decline of smoking prevalence that has been consistent throughout the review period. Increasing numbers of Macedonian consumers are giving up smoking for health reasons.
In response to the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers have been motivated to shift to fine cut (roll-your-own) tobacco as a lower cost alternative whilst many consumers have also been cutting out tobacco and nicotine consumption entirely, as well as reducing the number of consumers who take up smoking at all. Likewise, illicit trade is another factor leading to volume decline of cigarettes as cash-strapped consumers are particularly drawn to the lower prices of grey markets cigarettes.
Imperial Tobako, a subsidiary of Imperial Brands, will maintain its healthy lead of cigarettes in 2020, thanks to its broad product portfolio with 15 brands active in cigarettes. However, the company will post a slight loss of retail volume share and significant negative growth in 2020.
Over the forecast period, the 2013 Excise Tax Law changes are set to continue impacting cigarettes in North Macedonia. Unit prices will continue to increase steadily until 2023 which will lead to a further decline in the volume consumption of cigarettes as a growing number of cash-strapped consumers, and smokers will not be able to afford new higher prices.
Over the forecast period, smoking prevalence will continue to decline. As well as the continuous shift towards alternative products waning interest in smoking will also be due to health and wellness trends gaining ground, and consumers becoming increasingly educated regarding the detrimental impact of both active and passive smoking to the health.
The economic recession as a result of COVID-19 is likely to further push consumers towards lower-cost options such as economy brands in cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco in place of cigarettes. Overall, however, the performance of cigarettes over the forecast period will not be subject to any major impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, with consumer downtrading already common and the factors that motivate it remaining in place.
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