[THE INVESTOR] Korea’s top tobacco company KT&G on Nov. 26 unveiled a new heat-not-burn cigarette named lil HYBRID to boost its market share here.
“We received customer feedback on our previous HNB cigarettes -- Lil Mini and Lil Plus. Following this, we made improvements in three areas -- taste, amount of smoke and maintenance,” said Lim Wang-seob, chief of the company’s product innovation division, during a press conference in Seoul.
The company claims to have improved the new brand’s taste by applying a system that heats up tobacco sticks at 160 degrees Celsius, around 155 lower than its previous products. Moreover, it has upgraded its new brand to puff out more smoke by applying a detachable liquid cartridge, sold separately. The new product also has its own exclusive stick called Miix that has a Y-shaped tunnel. Customers can use the new sticks without frequently cleaning of the device.
“The product is priced at 110,000 won (US$97). But, to take on rivals, customers can purchase it for 83,000 won through coupons on our website,” Lim added.
Meanwhile, the health issues of HNB cigarettes remain questionable, as the Korean company denied to disclose any specific information related to the harmful effects of Miix.
“We do not want be part of a useless debate over harmfulness of HNB cigarettes. So we will not disclose our results until clear internationally acceptable guidelines come out,” Lim said.
In November last year, KT&G launched its first HNB cigarette Lil. Tobacco makers do not disclose their market shares here, but Phillip Morris’ iQOS is currently estimated to have the largest market share with 50 to 60 percent.
By Song Seung-hyun (email@example.com)