In terms of how the Marlboro brand has been faring, Gifford said he was pleased. “If you look at the first half [of the year] vs. fourth quarter of 2018, Marlboro is up 0.1%,” he said. “And you’ll recall that we talked about stabilizing Marlboro. And I just want to be clear what we mean by stabilizing, because sometimes people take that in different directions. We try not to look over a short period.”
Gifford said the company reviews four brand metrics: share, profitability, the demographics of the brand and what he called an “equity score.” He said he based his positive assessment across those four metrics.
One of the company's efforts at bolstering the Marlboro brand in 2018 included the expansion of Marlboro Ice, he said. “It has the resealable pack that consumers are giving [us] great feedback on,” Gifford said. “It is performing very well in the marketplace.”
He went on to note other efforts, including trade programs and a test of a “Points West” program in Texas, where consumers open a product’s flip-top box to reveal a unique code that they can log into to receive rewards. “What we’ve seen is a significant increase in unique logins, so more people are engaging with the brand,” he said. “And we think that leads to higher loyalty and a higher level of engagement with the brand through time.”
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