6 Telling Stats on the iQOS Electronic Cigarette

What retailers and customers are saying about Philip Morris’ heat-not-burn product

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

iQOS vapor

NEW YORK -- Tobacco analysts such as Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo Securities and Vivien Azer of Cowen Group have long speculated about the potential of Philip Morris International’s (PMI) iQOS product to revolutionize the e-vapor industry. But until recently, there was little data on the product, which heats actual tobacco instead of liquid nicotine (as with electronic cigarettes), as it is only available in limited test markets in Europe and Asia and not expected to come to the United States until 2017 at the earliest.

That changed in March, when New York-based PMI presented a number of studies and data from iQOS’ international trial markets at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Conference and the Consumer Analyst Group of New York Conference. Later that month, Cowen Group conducted its own research, surveying more than 100 retailers currently selling iQOS in Tokyo and Milan. The early results reveal a strong case for iQOS’ revolutionary reputation.

Here’s six revealing statistics from that data:

2.4% - iQOS’ share of the Japanese cigarette market less than one year after launching nationally. “Given the strong start iQOS has seen in Japan, we expect that over time Japan will account for approximately 25% of iQOS sales by 2020,” Azer wrote in a report.

85% - Amount of 50 Tokyo retailers surveyed who said they were positive about the long-term outlook for iQOS. “Across a variety of measures, our survey showed high levels of optimism around the potential for iQOS and strong consumer adoption in the early days,” said Azer, which is consistent with data from Philip Morris.

90% - Tokyo retailers who described consumer retention of iQOS as “somewhat good,” with 80% reporting that consumers have found the heat sticks easy to start. “In large part, this optimism seems to reflect better consumer adoption and retention in Japan,” Azer said.

45% - Amount of smokers surveyed by PMI who said reduced exposure labels (similar to the warning label a FDA-approved modified-risk product might get) meant they would “definitely” or “very likely” use iQOS regularly.

70% - Amount of iQOS users in Switzerland who describe themselves as “fully converted” or “predominantly converted” away from cigarettes to exclusive iQOS use as of December 2015. In Japan, that figure was 57%. “The totality of Philip Morris’ clinical evidence gathered to date suggests iQOS approaches a ‘gold standard’ of cessation,” Herzog wrote in a research note on iQOS.

30% - Amount of the global combustible cigarette Herzog predicts iQOS could disrupt by 2025: “We believe iQOS represents the industry’s first legitimate step toward mainstreaming reduced-risk products and reshaping the global smoking industry and in the process, offering a way to potentially improve smoker health trajectories significantly and rapidly worldwide.”

Sources: Cowen iQOS Survey, March 2016, Philip Morris International company data, Wells Fargo Securities