Retail volume sales of cigarettes in Romania continued to decline in 2018, with the category’s ongoing contraction, however, remaining slow. Commentators believe this is down to efforts taken to curb smoking prevalence having reached something of a ceiling.
The slow decline in sales of cigarettes can perhaps be attributed to still relatively high smoking prevalence in Romania due to smoking being a deep-rooted tradition but also the fact that these products continue to be heavily marketed, with the latter also being the case for heated tobacco. While the law in Romania prohibits most forms of direct advertising, including television, radio, print media and outdoor advertising, point-of-sale advertising is not prohibited.
British American Tobacco remained the clear leader in cigarettes in 2018, commanding nearly one half of overall volume sales, with Philip Morris and JT International ranking second and third, respectively, and accounting for most of the category’s remaining sales. These three manufacturers have together dominated the category for many years thanks to strong brands such as Kent, Marlboro, Pall Mall and Winston, all of which benefit from widespread distribution and significant marketing support.
The leading distribution channel for cigarettes in 2018 remained grocery retailers, led by independent small grocers and newsagent-tobacconists/kiosks. However, the share of the two channels declined slowly over the course of the review period, mainly in favour of supermarkets and tobacco specialists, with the former in particular benefiting from the expansion of modern grocery retailing in Romania, not only in urban areas but also rural ones.
When compared to the review period the decline in retail volume sales of cigarettes in Romania is expected to accelerate over the forecast period. The category will continue to be adversely affected by falling smoking prevalence as a result of increased health consciousness but also rising prices due to ongoing tax hikes and regulations such as the ban on smoking in enclosed places and flavoured products, with menthol variants also set to be outlawed.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Tobacco market research database.