With increasing concerns over healthy lifestyles and smoking odours, tobacco consumption in South Korea showed a downward trend in 2021, along with the lower smoking prevalence of cigarettes. Since the emergence of the pandemic, the country has become less tolerant of cigarette smokers and producing odour from smoking in a public area has become unacceptable.
The initial focus of tobacco manufacturers when investing in new product development is to reduce odour. During the pandemic-induced restrictions and prolonged home seclusion, South Koreans became even more sensitive to odours than before, which encouraged them to search for products that minimised the smell traditionally associated with smoking.
Whilst competition intensified in 2021 in line with decreasing tobacco consumption in the country, the local giant KT&G recorded a positive performance, gaining retail volume share in both cigarettes and heated tobacco products. The market leader has made an effort to increase its presence in the latter, and successfully gained ground from iconic brands Iqos and HEETS (Philip Morris) due to its innovative device Lil Hybrid 2.
The tobacco retailing landscape in South Korea experienced few changes in 2021, with convenience stores remaining the most popular destination for smokers. Due to the strict regulation on tobacco sales, retailers require a special tobacco licence to sell tobacco products.
The outlook for tobacco in South Korea is not particularly promising overall as increasing numbers of local consumers pursue a healthier lifestyle, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. Cigarettes is expected to be hit hardest by this trend, whilst the government continuously strengthens regulations and attempts to promote negative perceptions of cigarette consumption.
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Passport Tobacco covers the seven major tobacco categories: Cigarettes, Cigars & Cigarillos, Smoking tobacco (made up of Pipe tobacco and RYO tobacco), Smokeless Tobacco (snuff and chewing tobacco), E-Vapour Products (closed and open); Heated Tobacco; and Tobacco Free Oral Nicotine. Smoking paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, lighters or matches, etc., are not included, nor are nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, which are part of Euromonitor's Passport Consumer Healthcare database.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Tobacco research and analysis database.
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