Project YW was an R.J. Reynolds effort to design a cigarette to target younger women. Its primary characteristic was to be a vanilla flavoring, and an attempt to make a cigarette that offered a "fresh aftertaste" to help smoking appeal to more women.
A 1986 memo from the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company discusses Project YW, which presumably stands for "Young Women." The project was to design a cigarette to appeal to young women, who were "an increasingly important source of business." The idea was to create a cigarette that smelled better and that could be marketed as providing "personal cosmetic freshness and attractiveness." The memo states,
- "Female smokers represent an increasingly important source of business... Among younger adult smokers in particular, female smokers are now as large a smoker share opportunity as are male smokers."
- " ... female smokers represent an increasingly important source of business that is relatively uncluttered by brand options...Therefore, there appears to be opportunity for an entry with a...distinct female smoker brand and product identity."
Excerpts from the document:
April 2, 1986
TO: Mr. J. A. Herberger
FROM: J. M. Cranford, Jr.
RE: Project YW
This provides a summary of product options and product concept positionings for Project YW that are now being given consideration.
I. YW's Opportunity
Female smokers represent an increasingly important source of business. The gap in smoking incidence rates between males and females continues to narrow. Among younger adult smokers in particular, female smokers are now as large a smoker share opportunity as are male smokers.
It is judged that, among the brands that currently have appreciable younger adult female share, there are none, with the possible exception of Virginia Slims, that have a distinct female smoker product benefit focus.
...As background summary, female smokers represent an increasingly important source of business that is relatively uncluttered by brand options.
...II. Positioning Alternatives
YW positioning alternatives, summarized below, each have as a core benefit perceptibly unique product benefits which are directed to the wants or lifestyles of contemporary female smokers.
It is Judged that these unique product benefits can be leveraged in establishing for YW a female brand and product identity that is relevant and contemporary, representing a pre-emptive breakthrough relative to female smokers' current brands.
... Positioning Alternatives
I. Fresh, Airy Aroma
Benefit Imagery Options: Imagery which supports fresh, airy and clean aroma perceptions, including:
- Pleasant, fresh surroundings, or - Personal cosmetic freshness and attractiveness
...3. Fresher, Cleaner Taste
Core Product Benefit: The taste of YW is fresher and cleaner during and after smoking than any other non-menthol cigarette.
Benefit Positioning: YW's fresher and cleaner taste is the new taste dimension for female smokers.
Benefit Imagery: Imagery which supports fresh, clean taste perceptions.
Related SourceWatch resources
- J.M. Cranford, Jr., R.J. Reynolds Project YW Letter. 4 pp. April 2, 1986. Bates No. 505938010/8013
- E. Fackelman et al Project YW. Marketing Research Proposal. MDD #85-42616). Project YW Initial Qualitative Exploratory Market research proposal. September 17, 1985. 2 pp. Bates No. 504742705/2706
- R.J. Reynolds Project YW Report. 1986. Bates No. 505775820/5821
- No author Project YW focus groups Report. 1986. R.J. Reynolds Bates No. 505653152/3154