While sales of cigarettes in South Korea had seen continuous declines since 2017 due to the impact of higher tobacco taxes and strong anti-smoking policies in the country, the pandemic caused 2020 to experience unexpected growth. A shift of duty-free cigarette demand to the domestic market was one important reason driving the growth of cigarettes in South Korea in 2020.
In 2020, cigarettes with a capsule saw an increasing share as major players extended their reduced smell cigarette line-ups. The share of flavoured capsule cigarettes continued to increase in 2020, much as it has over the review period.
KT&G Corp remained the leading player in cigarettes in South Korea in 2020. The company benefitted from the strong brand awareness of its signature cigarette brand, Esse.
In 2021, the volume sales of cigarettes are expected to decrease, returning to a level similar to the pre-COVID-19 period. As the spread of the virus becomes more stabilized, fewer consumers may turn to cigarettes for immediate stress-relief as they did under lockdown.
The fact that the consumption of cigarettes increased during 2020 because of COVID-19 may have some negative implications for the forecast period. It is likely that the government will seek out stronger measures to reduce the smoking rate in the forecast period, with flavoured cigarettes likely to become the next target.
The South Korean government will continue controlling the consumption of tobacco products through increased taxation in the forecast period. The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced a plan to increase the price of cigarettes by more than 70% over the next ten years.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Cigarettes industry in South Korea with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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This report originates from Passport, our Cigarettes research and analysis database.
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