Due to supply shortages, Philips Morris International twice delayed its nationwide promotion, and Japan Tobacco also suspended the shipment of vape.
Japan has become a key testing ground for these two companies and their new genuine vape products, and they are struggling to cope with the shrinking demand for traditional cigarettes in other developed countries.
“We believe that the success of iQOS commercialization in Japan will accelerate its global expansion,” Paul Riley, president of Philip Morris Japan, told Reuters.
Junichiro Koizumi, CEO of Japan Tobacco Corporation, said at the earnings conference in February: “We have high expectations for the growth of so-called tobacco smoke products in the next five years or so.”
iQOS is a cut tobacco that is heated enough to produce aerosols but does not burn. The company believes that real tobacco will better meet the needs of smokers than existing vape.
This new vape, priced at 9,980 yen ($89), is similar to other vape. It is a pen-shaped vape powered by a battery and releases tobacco vapor through heating.
A key difference is the supplement, which is sold as a Marlboro heating rod. Vapes sold elsewhere mostly use liquids containing nicotine, which is strictly regulated in Japan. A pack of 20 hot rods sells for 460 yen, which is the same price as regular Marlboro cigarettes.
Philip Morris has already launched this product in major cities in Switzerland, Italy and other countries, but Japan is the first country where the company plans to launch this product nationwide.
The company originally planned to sell this product nationwide on March 1, but due to possible supply shortages, the company delayed the launch until the end of March. Prior to this, the company conducted trial sales in 12 counties and sales were better than expected.
The company estimates that as of the end of January, Marlboro heating rods’ market share in Tokyo reached 2.4%.
Japan Tobacco, the world’s third-largest tobacco producer with approximately 60% of the cigarette market in Japan, also joined the initiative, acquiring two overseas vape manufacturers in the past two years.
In Japan, the company launched Ploom technology capsules priced at 4,000 yen, priced at 460 yen per pack, with 5 capsules per pack. The selling point of Ploom TECH is that the vapor generated by the liquid cigarette pack will pass through the tobacco particles in the capsule, creating a taste that the company calls close to the real taste.
Masanao Takahashi, Director of the Emerging Products Marketing Department of Japan Tobacco, said: “There is definitely a demand for products that are smoke-free but still satisfactory as cigarettes.”
Like iQOS, the first release of Ploom TECH in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka was also very popular. Due to supply shortages, shipments of the device were suspended after a week.
Currently, the company is committed to launching new products nationwide, and plans to expand globally later this year.