Ideas Generated for the 870000 Concept Study

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

This wild Philip Morris brainstorming document is full of bizarre ideas about how to make cigarettes more appealing and marketable to consumers and how to design cigarettes to counter the social stigma of smoking. Ideas include making cigarettes that alter consciousness, administer an aphrodisiac, mimic certain drugs, emit insect repellant, control cholesterol intake, deodorize a room, control appetite, serve as a laxative, renew energy, and even -- amazingly enough -- cure cancer (although ironically this last one was one of the very few ideas that was later crossed off the list).

Page 3 contains a brief discussion of how to lure quitters back to smoking: "Someone suggested talking with quitters to discover how we might recover these consumers..." The document also discusses how to make the pack more attractive and useful. Ideas for this include: make the pack into a smoke detector, an alarm clock, a calculator, a "handy mirror," a "breatholyzer", or use microchips to make packs that play tunes, or tell smokers how many cigarettes remain in the pack. Another idea was for a "jolt" cigarette that offered extra-high nicotine. Other ideas included cigarettes that enhance athletic performance and increase lung capacity, or slow formation of wrinkles, a "taco-dorito"- flavored cigarette and a carbonated cigarette that would make the mouth all tingly.

The ideas were generated by employees from Philip Morris Research & Development, Marketing and Sales departments. This document, while overtly aimed at cigarette design and marketing, also also seems to indicate tat PM employees would prefer, if they had a chance, to make and market a product that was helpful, healthy, non-irritating and that actually had some kind of benefit for consumers.


In preparation for the 1987 Concept Study, we solicited input for new product ideas from R&D, Marketing, Marketing Research, and Sales personnel. Ten brainstorming sessions were held, from which we received a variety of ideas... We have compiled the numerous ideas generated, referencing research previously conducted and making recommendations as to ways in which many of these ideas can be evaluated in the future.


Countering Social Pressure

This category was addressed in all of the brainstorming sessions; the core ideas, however, represented a variety of different approaches. Group participants explored ideas surrounding a product "which only the smoker would appreciate": no sidestream smoke, no odor, self-contained. Implicit in most of the following suggestions was the correlate that there would be no (or minimal) taste sacrifice. Particulate-less sidestream was mentioned, as was reduced visibility or invisible smoke. The sidestream particles could be so heavy that they would fall from the air. For smokers who enjoy the smoke there could be a dial-the-sidestream concept, to turn the sidestream on or off depending on the situation. Ideas ranged from a colorless smoke to a colorful sidestream for a pleasing appearance. The enjoyment of watching and playing with the smoke was expressed by several smokers. Removing the "odor" came from several angles--in the room, in the ashtray, on clothes, in hair, in cars, etc. Perhaps there is an odor that would not be absorbed in material (clothes, curtains, upholstery). Suggestions were made for aromas that would be more pleasant/less irritating to both the smoker and the nonsmoker--pipe aroma, coffee, chocolate, fruit, earthy, freshly cut grass, alcohol, herbs, a roasted or heated smell (instead of burning), a barn filled with flue-cured tobacco, etc. The pleasant aroma could be released upon opening the pack and/or while smoking. Or, when extinguishing the cigarette there could be a pleasant aroma emitted from the ashtray. In looking at the suggestions for sidestream aromas, it appears that some participants took the approach of a subtle but pleasant smell, whereas others were interested in a distinctive, aromatic sidestream.

The flip-side of the problem would be to provide a cigarette that deodorizes a room--a room freshener. Maybe it could have an additional benefit such as an insect repellent. Going beyond this was sidestream that replenishes the ozone layer. Perhaps there could be a "smart" cigarette that would know where smoking was not allowed and would therefore go out. The novel approach of a sidestream collector/deflector was expressed. This might be something that came with the pack which could be used to catch the smoke--even the exhaled smoke. A twist on this idea was a holder, maybe a type of ashtray, to slip the cigarette into when not puffing or a tube into which the smoker would insert the cigarette, capturing or changing the nature of the sidestream smoke. By trapping the smoke, the interest was in decreasing room aroma and the quantity of visible smoke. The trap idea was also suggested for exhaled smoke. The issue of improving smoker contentment, felt when smoking alone or around other smokers, is an area which deserves additional research. The question of 'what is it about the sidestream' was implicit in the many suggestions--interest in the relative contributions of the aroma, the visibility, the particulate. Does it have to be eliminated totally to have a positive impact? Is it the irritation factor, the physical effect on the eyes? What if the smoke was aroma-less but visible? Conversely, what if it was aromatic but not visible? The larger question posed by some participants was "what is it that the nonsmoker complains about?" Is it the cumulative effect of smoke in the room, or more specifically the smoke off the end of the cigarette, the smoke from an ashtray, or exhaled smoke? The directive was to uncover the source of the social pressure and the feelings of "stigma," to thereby determine ways to improve the social climate for today's smoker. Some participants expressed the need for special areas where smokers are invited to congregate, where smoking is a privilege. Although social pressure may be a strong negative force for some, smoking is still very much a social behavior. People who smoke only infrequently are apt to choose to do so when in restaurants or bars socializing. These observations suggest a potentially fruitful line of research to determine the times/situations when the smoker wants to be aware versus unaware of smoking, as well as when he/she feels that others are particularly bothered by the smoke.

Healthy Cigarette

Some new product ideas were derived from reversing the tables on the Surgeon General. There was the intriguing idea of giving the smoker "a cigarette to brag about"--one that was "enriched" or that had a health benefit (vitamins, minerals, medicinal, aphrodisiac, pheromones, one that cures cancer, reduces staining on teeth, fluoride, decreases blood pressure, etc.). Perhaps the smoke would deliver a component to slow the development of wrinkles, to promote hair growth, or to prevent air-sickness. A medicinal product for both smokers and nonsmokers would be one that upon inhalation served as a decongestant (maybe something mentholated) or acted as a cough-suppressant. It could be useful for alleviating the symptoms of colds or allergies.

...Someone suggested talking with quitters to discover how we might recover these consumers, or at least (through their opinions) how to retain current smokers. The question involves understanding the dynamics of smoking behavior to better know how to satisfy the consumer. A benefit could be derived, perhaps, from smoke components that modified mood, enhanced memory or heightened attention. The cigarette could deliver components that alter consciousness and mimic certain drugs, without the adverse effects. Some participants were interested in a cigarette that would control cholesterol intake, weight, appetite, serve as a laxative, or provide a sweet flavor as a nonfattening replacement for desert. Perhaps the emphasis should be on a product that had a calming or tranquilizing effect, like sipping a liqueur. What about a product that enhanced athletic performance or increased lung capacity? The effect could be a "natural" one, perhaps stimulating the neurochemical release of endogenous opiates. Another variation was to play up the advantage of a pick-me-up, a "natural high," that refreshes and renews the smoker's energy level. The underlying idea was to make the cigarette provide additional benefits to consumers. The analogy of baking soda was pointed out, which went from limited use in cooking to roles in deodorizing refrigerators, cleaning teeth, etc. Having strong product benefits will aid the diffusion of innovations, particularly where product awareness relies heavily on word of mouth...

Organization Author PM, PHILIP MORRIS
Person Authors JONES,J; WU,L
Document Date 19870602 (June 2, 1987)
Bates Number 2001298704/8719
Collection Philip Morris
Pages 16