Cigarette sales in South Korea experienced a decline in 2021 as health-conscious consumers attempted to reduce their habit. In addition to pursuing healthier lifestyles noted over the past decade, recent changes have encouraged consumers to move away from cigarettes.
The “low” trend that has impacted many industries in South Korea has emerged in cigarettes. 2021 witnessed a number of products highlighting low nicotine and low tar landing on retailers’ shelves.
KT&G Corp maintained its dominant lead of cigarettes in 2021, with its global super slim cigarette brand Esse. Furthermore, KT&G has solidified its position as a dominant category leader by aggressively launching a variety of cigarette brands in 2021.
The outlook for retail sales of cigarettes is not particularly optimistic, with the category having already lost its consumer base for a decade. There are various factors supporting declining retail volume sales of cigarettes in South Korea, including the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle accelerated after the pandemic, stronger anti-tobacco campaigns and the negative perception of odour connected to smoking cigarettes.
Pressure to increase tobacco tax continues to grow. In early 2021, the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea published the “5th Comprehensive National Health Promotion Plan” and announced that it would double the price of cigarettes over the next 10 years.
With increasing concerns linked to cigarette odour and competition from next-generation products, flavour innovation will be key for cigarette producers to retain the interest of consumers. Increasing numbers of smokers are attracted to flavoured products with six out of 10 consumers answering that they regularly consume flavoured cigarettes, according to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Industry: Nicotine Survey.
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RETAIL SALES OF DUTY PAID CIGARETTES The definition of cigarettes for the purposes of this study is duty-paid, machine manufactured white-stick products. This does not exclude brands of cigarettes that do not use white paper but it is designed to exclude the volume of non-machine manufactured products such as bidis/beedis (India) and papirosy (Russia), and other smoking products made with tobacco but that either do not resemble cigarettes as recognised in the US or Europe, or those that are not machine manufactured. The exclusion of these products is intended to give a more accurate picture of the "true" market for cigarettes and cigars which has been distorted in official statistics and published reports because of the inclusion of hybrid products. NB Please note that due to its central importance and integration into the industry mainstream, Indonesia’s market data does include hand-rolled kreteks DUTY-FREE sales are excluded from retail sales, as are herbal cigarettes. ILLICIT TRADE CIGARETTES Not included in retail sales, but split out separately in volume terms only. Defined as non-duty paid cigarettes (includes smuggled & counterfeit/fake products combined). Legitimate cross-border sales are considered duty-paid. Sales arising from a foreign national purchasing cheaper cigarettes in bulk in a neighbouring country for personal use and exported back are attributed to the country where the purchase is made (e.g. bulk cigarette sales by British nationals in France are attributed to France).See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Cigarettes research and analysis database.
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