Reynolds Readies Nicotine-Replacement Therapy Products

Will launch Zonnic in Iowa in September; also testing e-cigs, pouches, pellets, extracts

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Reynolds American Inc. is entering the nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) marketplace with the Zonnic gum product of its Niconovum pharmaceutical subsidiary, said The Winston-Salem Journal. Reynolds is also launching its version of an electronic cigarette (Vuse), smokeless pouches and pellets (Viceroy) and nicotine extract products such as lozenges, the newspaper reported.

The launch of Zonnic in retail outlets in Des Moines, Iowa, on September 3 represents the latest innovation for Reynolds, following up on Camel Snus (see Related Content below) and three Camel dissolvable products, said the report. The company is test marketing Vuse and Viceroy in the Triad region of North Carolina at select Tarheel Tobacco outlets.

"We hope the focus of Zonnic is on the message of the product, and not the messenger, because we believe Zonnic takes the smoker's perspective into cessation," Tommy Payne, president of Niconovum USA Inc., Winston-Salem, told the paper.

The gum represents Niconovum's first product introduction in the United States. Reynolds bought Niconovum AB, based in Sweden, in 2009 for $44 million. Its products, which also include pouches and spray forms, are sold in Denmark and Sweden.

Payne said Zonnic already has been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

He added that the appeal of Zonnic will be based "on its unique approach to brand positioning, distribution, packaging and price."

Each Zonnic package will contain 10 pieces, as well as "stop smoking aid" labeling. It will come in 2-milligram and 4-milligram mint styles, with the larger concentration aimed at adults who smoke within 30 minutes of waking up.

The 10-count package will sell for about $3. That's about half the price of a pack of cigarettes in the Des Moines market and about a third of the cost of similar NRT gums, according to Reynolds.

Most sellers of NRT products typically package their gum in quantities of 20 to 40, which Reynolds said can be a hindrance to someone just starting on the path to quitting.

Zonnic will be sold primarily in convenience stores and gas stations, the report said, noting that most NRT products tend to be sold in large quantities in drug and big-box retail stores.

"We want to bring smokers into NRT that haven't been in the category before, whether because of cost, access and motivation," Payne said.

Niconovum officials think they will earn smokers' confidence in Zonnic in part by taking "an inspirational, positive approach by speaking to adult smokers in a nonjudgmental, respectful manner."

Its marketing pitches include the messages "Each cigarette not smoked is a victory" and "It's more than quitting--it's succeeding."

Because Zonnic is an NRT product, Niconovum will be able to use television and radio advertising as well as point-of-sale (POS) and direct-mail marketing.

If Zonnic proves successful in Des Moines, Reynolds could go national with distribution fairly quickly, Payne told the Journal.

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