Segmentation Study Among Black Smokers

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

This confidential R.J. Reynolds marketing research report discusses how the company could better market cigarettes to African Americans. The author, Joaquin Pericas of RJR's Marketing Development Department, refers to this group as "an increasingly important opportunity segment," citing the group's high rates of smoking incidence and population growth. The author concludes that "Blacks tend to buy less things to improve themselves, they appear less concerned about health related issues." He states, "They are not followers of physical fitness fads" and "Blacks have less concern for the future and live from one day to the next. They buy products for instant gratification." Pericas says Blacks live "superstitious, unplanned, impulsive life styles," and recommends placing more Black models in general market cigarette ads in order to better appeal to this group. Quotes:

...With this higher smoking incidence and continued population growth, Blacks represent an increasingly important opportunity segment."

This report provides highlights of Black psychographics and Black segment share of smokers...

Black Segment Usership

The "Coolness" segment is by far the largest among Black smokers...This segment among blacks is twice as large as it is among the General Market...Study shows that the "Coolness" segment is characterized as mentholated, short in length and high in tar with a fashion model, elegant, delicate, feminine image...

[From 2nd page]:

RJR is a major force in the "Virile" and "Moderation" segments, accounting for 76% and 80% of these two Black segments respectively...The use of a more aggressive stand on the part of WINSTON, such as incorporating Black models in the General Market executions, should expand even further the edge that exists over Marlboro...

[From Page 6 of the document]:

The proportion of "Moralists" and "Forerunners" in the Black Market is significantly smaller than in the General Market, but there are a greater proportion of Black smokers in the "Materialists" and "Aimless" subgroups. From a marketing standpoint, the above differences suggest the following about Black smokers relative to General Market smokers: -Blacks tend to buy less things to improve themselves, they appear less concerned about health related issues (i.e., Blacks don't necessarily identify with the motivations of the "Concerned" and "Moderation" segments) and are more prone to buy on impulse. - Blacks are more interested in buying cigarettes for the image it projects to others (i.e., importance of the "Stylish" segment). - Blacks are more skeptical of large corporations and their claims about technically "improved" products (i.e., "low tar"/great taste, "breakthroughs".) [NOTE: Merit, with its "breakthrough" in taste and low tar, has never proved to be successful among Blacks]. They are not followers of physical fitness fads but would like to see more "natural" products. - Blacks have less concern for the future and live from one day to the next. They buy products for instant gratification.

[From Page 7]:

Based on the VALS segments, a large proportion of Black smokers (43%) are part of the "Survivors" subgroup. This group is characterized by the following:

  • Economic activities driven by need rather than based on choice. Incomes at or below poverty levels.
  • Minority backgrounds. Live in metro areas.
  • Superstitious, unplanned, impulsive life styles.
  • Buy impulsively, erratically, when money available.

Another large group of Black smokers are part of the "Emulators" segment (14% of Black smokers). This group comprises the status conscious, show-off, upwardly mobile, nouveau rich, relatively young type of people. They tend to buy for conspicuous consumption, "in" items, voguish fashion.

Black smokers are less likely to fall in the "Socially Conscious", "Experimental" and "Achievers" segments than are General Market smokers....Thus, Black smokers appear to buy more impulsively than General Market smokers, they are also more "imagery" oriented in terms of "emulation" and "stylishness" (but not so much in terms of the "masculine reinforcement" provided by the "Virile" brands) and are more skeptical about technically "improved" products and "breakthroughs."[1]

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  1. Juan Pericas, R.J. Reynolds Marketing Research Report. Analysis of the MDD Segmentation Study Among Black Smokers Market research report. 17 pp. February 17, 1982. Bates No. February 17, 1982