ATLANTA —Heat-not-burn devices, nicotine pouches and vaping products piqued retailers’ interest on the NACS trade show floor during this year’s annual convention in Atlanta.
Whether it was a major manufacturer such as Altria Group unveiling a full-sized pop-up store for its U.S. introduction of the heat-not-burn IQOS device or Swedish Match introducing new flavors for its Zyn nicotine pouch, exhibitors in the tobacco category had plenty to reveal.
At the same time, controversy lingered over the category, as state and federal officials took significant steps in recent weeks to stop minors from using flavored e-cigarettes. Ahead of the NACS Show, three states—Massachusetts, Michigan and New York—issued executive orders to remove or restrict the products at retail. Several other states initiated similar actions after the Oct. 1-4 show concluded.
Still, foot traffic at many of the tobacco exhibits remained high. Here’s a rundown of products seen on the NACS trade show floor this year …
One of the highlights of the Altria booth this year was a modular, full-sized pop-up store that the company intended to deploy during its introduction of IQOS in its first U.S. market, Atlanta, this fall. While officials asked that reporters not take photographs of the unit, they said it fits into an average-sized single vehicle parking space. Visually, the retail pod had a clean, modern design and featured the IQOS heat sticks. The stores will function as 21-and-older-only education and retail spaces.
Richmond, Va.-based Altria also talked about its recent purchase of 80% interest in a nicotine-pouch line from a Swiss holding company. The portfolio of On products consists of seven flavors and five nicotine strengths for a total of 35 SKUs, the company said.
Other notable displays in the Altria exhibit area included the John Middleton section and its new Blues line of Black and Mild products, as well as the display of Copenhagen Wintergreen moist snuff.
Celebrating its 10th year of marketing its blu e-cigarette, Charlotte, N.C.-based Fontem Ventures touted both a new flavor—Fresh Mint—but also an app to help retailers train front-line employees on its myblu devices and related items. With the app, clerks play digital games that educate them about Fontem products.
Harbor Convenience Retail
A maker of tobacco merchandising displays and shelving, Grand Haven, Mich.-based Harbor Convenience Retail showcased a shelf-monitoring system that tracked product as packs moved from shelves to customers’ hands at the point-of-sale. Harbor featured a system from Vend Data Media Solutions, Wilmington, Ohio.
ImageWorks Display & Marketing
Addressing the changing needs of the tobacco retailer, ImageWorks Display & Marketing, Winston-Salem, N.C., set up a full backbar in its booth. While some shelves were standard steel, others were fashioned with hard plastic to accommodate shorter shelves and variations to its standard format.
JT International USA
Carrying a range of tobacco products, JT International USA, Teaneck, N.J., displayed multiple cigarette brands, including its value-priced LD brand. In terms of other tobacco products (OTP), its Logic e-cigarette was prominent, as was its PrimeTime large cigars, Smoker’s Choice and Gold Rush filtered cigars and Sparrow pipe tobacco.
With a focus on age verification, officials in the Juul Labs booth demonstrated its new point-of-sale-based system that allows sales of Juul e-cigarettes and vaping pods only to customers with valid, of-age IDs for that market. The system, called Retail Access Control Standards (RACS), will automatically stop a sale if a cashier scans a Juul product and immediately request a valid ID to continue. To prevent people buying in bulk for possible resale to minors, RACS will also not allow a customer to buy more than four Juul-branded items during any single sale.
With federal and state health officials scrutinizing the category and Juul being a dominant brand, officials with the San Francisco-based e-cigarette maker have been actively addressing the issue of minors and vaping.
Last year, Altria purchased a minority stake in Juul and recently placed two Altria executives in key posts at the vaping company.
Moorpark, Calif.-based Kretek International, an importer, marketer and distributor of specialty tobacco products, announced the formation of a new company, Dryft Sciences, which will also have its headquarters in Moorpark. The new operating company will focus exclusively on Dryft nicotine pouches, the oral nicotine products that Kretek has distributed in the United States since July 2016. The newly formed Dryft Sciences will lead the national rollout of Dryft nicotine pouches by expanding production capacity, distribution and marketing efforts.
National Tobacco Co.
The booth for National Tobacco Co., Louisville, Ky., and its Turning Point brands featured, among other products, the Zig Zag brand of rolling paper. In the cannabidiol (CBD) section of the trade show floor, National Tobacco exhibited the nu-X CBD vape pen and Rip Stick vaping device with multi-flavored pods.
New Image Global
In addition to its line of cigar wraps, Tustin, Calif.-based New Image Global and its Royal Blunts brand has introduced wrappers made from industrial hemp. Flavors within its True Hemp line of wrappers include Banana, Sticky Gelato, Honey, Flav-R-Less, Mango and Russian Cream.
Golden Eagle, Ill.-based Nova Distributors offered a cigarette filter called TarBar that allows for an additional level of screening for particles while smoking. Users affix the TarBar filter over the cigarette’s own filter to capture the additional materials. Each pack contains 32 filters.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Under Winston-Salem, N.C.-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s umbrella, two products stood out at the NACS Show: Reynolds’ nicotine pouch product, Velo, and its e-cigarette, Vuse.
On the Vuse side, commercials featuring the advanced technology have been hitting network airwaves; and like other e-cigarette companies, Reynolds Vapor has started a $1-kit promotion in its ads. Over the past year, some vapor companies have been running value-based promotions for its kits, hoping that increasing the distribution of branded devices will lead to trial and purchase of their vaping pods.
Regarding its nicotine pouch, Velo, Reynolds officials announced in July that it is expanding its “modern oral” portfolio with Velo, describing it as a line of tobacco leaf-free and spit-free nicotine pouches. A tobacco-derived nicotine product, Velo comes in pouches and contains no tobacco leaf or other tobacco plant matter apart from the nicotine extracted from the tobacco plant, the company said.
Smokey Mountain Snuff
Touting its tobacco-free moist snuff, Waco, Texas-based Smokey Mountain Snuff displayed eight flavors, including Wintergreen, Classic, Straight, Citrus, Arctic Mint, Peach, Grape and Cherry. Two of those flavors, Arctic Mint and Wintergreen, come in pouches.
In addition to its wide array of flavored cigarillos, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Swisher International had several other products and brands on display. Among these items were its Hempire rolling papers; the E-Alternative Solutions vaping device called Leap; and Rogue-branded, tobacco-free products that included pouches, lozenges, tablets and gum.