How Philip Morris built Marlboro into a global brand for young adults

Philip Morris pursued standardised market research and strategic marketing plans in different regions throughout the world using research on young adults with three principle foci: lifestyle/ psychographic research, brand studies, and advertising/communication effectiveness.

Philip Morris

The American cigarette-maker Philip Morris

Philip Morris identified core similarities in the lifestyles and needs of young consumers worldwide, such as independence, hedonism, freedom, and comfort.

In the early 1990s Philip Morris adopted standardised global marketing efforts, creating a central advertising production bank and guidelines for brand images and promotions, but allowing regional managers to create regionally appropriate individual advertisements.

Prior studies describe the emergence of new markets for tobacco products and the exportation of successful marketing strategies from developed countries to the developing world. However, much of the research to date has been region specific, highlighting the marketing efforts and strategies in specific countries such as Sri Lanka, China, Hungary, Myanmar, or Indonesia.

While some international cigarette brands are concentrated in certain regions, others, such as Marlboro and Camel, are recognised all over the world, particularly among the young.

Values and lifestyles play a central role in the global marketing of tobacco to young adults. Worldwide counter marketing initiatives, coupled with strong, coherent global marketing policies such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, are needed to break associations between young adult values and tobacco brands.

As globalisation promotes the homogenisation of values and lifestyles, tobacco control messages that resonate with young adults in one part of the world may appeal to young adults in other countries. Successful tobacco control messages that appeal to young people, such as industry denormalisation, may be expanded globally with appropriate tailoring to appeal to regional values.

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