Benefits of Cigarettes Exploratory Research

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{{#badges:Tobaccowiki}} This January, 1981 R.J. Reynolds (RJR) treatise explores the perceived "benefits" of smoking to the smoker. It was produced to help RJR more thoroughly exploit the inner psychological needs of smokers in cigarette advertising and promotions. The document explores how and why young people start to smoke, and the value the imagery of smoking has to young people:

Smoking provides a highly visible display of rebellion against social, and especially parental, pressures. It thus creates an image of maturity and independence to which many young adults, insecure in their immaturity, would aspire ...

...The imagery of smoking can provide many young adults with a useful form of social self expression, that is perceived to smooth the way to peer acceptance ...

It also discusses the masculine and feminine imagery of cigarettes, for example:

Non-filter brands are particularly able to support masculine imagery, in that they provide a series of especially challenging tests to the smoker's virility--his ability to withstand the product's strength, its occasional painful tendency to tear skin from the lip, and the distasteful strands of tobacco it may deposit in his mouth ...

The report also seeks to find and pinpoint ways to exploit smokers' health fears:

Some smokers have been strongly alarmed by the extensive publicity concerning alleged health hazards of smoking, to the extent that they seek not merely to moderate their smoking but to eliminate entirely the "danger" that it may present. Such a smoker has two options. Firstly, he may simply cease smoking altogether ... His second option is to seek a cigarette which he perceives to reduce the alleged health risks to an acceptable -- minimal -- level ... Such a brand provides the consoling sense that the smoker has eliminated the risks of smoking by 'quitting,' while continuing to engage in ritualized behaviors associated with cigarettes ...

Quotes

PREFACE

This report discusses 15 major personal benefits that smokers derive from their smoking, and traces the connections between these benefits and seven underlying aspects of the smoking experience. The aim of the discussion is to provide an in-depth understanding of various market parameters that RJR may deploy in future strategy...

...[T]he report recommends that the manner in which smokers manipulate cigarettes be made a subject for future basic research. Examples are provided to show the variety and subtlety of the deeply expressive gestures that smokers make with their cigarettes. It is suggested that an increased understanding of this "language" could lead directly to more accurate and potent uses of symbolism within RJR's brand advertising ...

[From Page 13]:

Young smokers appear to have a strong susceptibility to social normative pressures within their peer group. That is to say, they are highly motivated to comply with what they perceive to be the expectations placed upon them by other young people. The reasons for this motivational complicity tend to derive from either a desire to "join" a group of peers, or a fear of social ostracism, or a combination of the two.

Young adults who already smoke appear virtually ubiquitously to be regarded as the "in-group" -- the peers who one would most value as friends but who, by the same token, would be the most difficult to befriend. The high peer status of young smokers stems, in the main, from the rebellion motif...Smoking provides a highly visible display of rebellion against social, and especially parental, pressures. It thus creates an image of maturity and independence to which many young adults, insecure in their immaturity, would aspire...[The] young person who is highly motivated to identify with this group of peers regard smoking as a price of membership and, in many cases is willing--if not eager--to pay it.

[From Page 15]:

Peer group stature is not merely a benefit of smoking; it also differentiates between brands...In practice, only a minority of brands tends to be encountered as providing peer group status. These are, in general, the brands whose symbology provides the "maturity, rebellion, coo" benefits discussed below.

[From Page 16]:

MATURITY, REBELLION, COOL

Smoking tends to enhance the young adult smoker's self image and creates the expectation of a better image in the eyes of relevant peers...As noted under Peer Group Stature, smoking tends initially to be an act of rebellion for most young adults, who have long been admonished by their parents not to smoke. Smoking breaks taboos established by parents and, as such, is one of the acts of self-assertion that typify the transition from childhood to adulthood.

[From Page 18]:

VIRILE IMAGERY

Traditionally speaking smoking has long had a masculine image...The masculine image of smoking is essentially that of the "downscale," "tough," "outdoor" man--for example, a construction worker, cowboy, or a lumberjack...The image of smoking as a man's activity derives from smokers' perceptions that smoking is, to some degree, unpleasant... In that smoking is perceived to be unpleasant and possibly hazardous, it becomes a test of manhood. "Only a real man would be able to take it." However, smoking is not only perceived to be a male activity--it is especially seen to be a blue collar male activity. In part, the blue collar image stems from the perception that the more physically oriented blue collar male is "tougher" than the sedentary, cerebral white collar worker, and hence more able to "handle" smoking ... Since many blue collar jobs result in the worker's becoming dirty, the "dirtyness" of smoking is thus seen to be similar to, and appropriate for, the blue collar male...Non-filter brands are particularly able to support masculine imagery, in that they provide a series of especially challenging tests to the smoker's virility--his ability to withstand the product's strength, its occasional painful tendency to tear skin from the lip, and the distasteful strands of tobacco it may deposit in his mouth ...

[From Page 26]:

PROTECTION

Some smokers have been strongly alarmed by the extensive publicity concerning alleged health hazards of smoking, to the extent that they seek not merely to moderate their smoking but to eliminate entirely the "danger" that it may present. Such a smoker has two options. Firstly, he may simply cease smoking altogether...His second option is to seek a cigarette which he perceives to reduce the alleged health risks to an acceptable -- minimal -- level...Such a brand provides the consoling sense that the smoker has eliminated the risks of smoking by "quitting," while continuing to engage in ritualized behaviors associated with cigarettes. An increasing number of brands addressed this benefit, including Now, Carlton, Cambridge and, perhaps Barclay.[1]

References

  1. Beaumont Organization The Benefits of Cigarettes. Exploratory Research Report. August, 1981. 51 pp. R.J. Reynolds Bates No. 503972013/2063

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