Cigarettes used to be considered as the only option for smokers, but consumers now enjoy more options, such as heated tobacco, and are buying fewer cigarettes. While the government is continuously strengthening regulations and increasing the negative image of cigarette consumption, heated tobacco is also eating into the market share of cigarettes with a potentially “reduced-harm” product positioning.
As a part of its anti-smoking regulations, since 2015 the Korean government has banned the use of any words implying a lower risk from cigarettes, such as “light” or “mild”. Cigarette companies had to change brand names to comply with these restrictions.
The local giant KT&G Corp continued to lead cigarettes in 2018. KT&G Corp’s cigarettes sales were less negatively impacted by the increasing popularity of heated tobacco than those of some of its competitors.
Convenience stores remained the leading distribution channel for cigarettes in 2018, supported by the easy accessibility of these outlets. In South Korea, cigarettes are a typical loss leader, attracting consumers to stores to try and get them to buy snacks and other products.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Tobacco market research database.