Kent Golden Lights
Excerpts from Kent Review
Prepared by Kent Brand Group
December 7, 1981
History and Forward Planning
Kent Golden Lights' brief international history is exemplified by its worldwide brand strategy focusing on leading in the development of a low delivery segment where smoker concern is less developed and taking advantage of consumer trends favoring low delivery cigarettes where smoker concern is more developed. While similarities exist between U. S. domestic and international development for the brand, specific strategies and results have been different to date. Since 1978, the peak year for Kent Golden Lights in the U. S., volume and share have shown steady decline, whereas international volume and share continue to increase although slower than anticipated. The following recap of U. S. domestic and international history describes the development and current status of the brand worldwide:
Kent Golden Lights Domestic History
Faced with steady declines for Kent and sharp increases in demand for hi-fi cigarettes, particularly in the single digit category, Lorillard launched Kent Golden Lights in the first quarter 1976, Kent Golden Lights provided Lorillard with a viable entry in the rapidly expanding low delivery category and stabilized the decline for the Kent franchise. Using an aggressive comparative advertising campaign, Kent Golden Lights was overtly positioned as a single digit line extension of Kent offering good taste.
By year end Kent Golden Lights had attained a 0.9% share of total market and a 6.4% share in the low delivery category. Continuing with its comparative introductory campaign, Kent Golden Lights doubled its share in 1977 to 1.8% of total market. Through 1978 Kent Golden Lights's volume and share grew to 12.5 billion units and 2.4% of total market. Although volume and share for Kent continued to decline, the overall franchise had been stabilized.
The proliferation and success of competitive single digit brand entries, particularly Merit, from 1977 forward impacted growth for Kent Golden Lights by 1978 and the brand's volume and share began to decline. In retrospect it became clear that a strategy emphasizing numbers for a line extension secondarily supported by acceptable taste claims could be pre-empted by free standing brand entries emphasizing scientific breakthroughs in taste enrichment supported by low deliveries. It is judged that a portion of the growth for Kent Golden Lights came from cannibalization of Kent. Since 1978 Lorillard has undertaken three major strategic changes to reverse the decline for Kent Golden Lights. "Kent" was dropped from the; brand name and the package color changed to gold from while in an effort to more clearly separate the brand's positioning from the Parent. Recognizing consumer preference for taste reassurance, secondarily supported by low numbers, an image campaign emphasizing smoking pleasure was introduced in September 1980. More recently, campaign copy has emphasized "Full. Rich. Delightful." taste claims. Comparative twelve month average share data since introduction of the image campaign indicates that the brand's share has continued to decline from 1.79% in September 1980 to 1.59% in September 1981. Judgementally, it is concluded that Lorillard jeopardized and lost the early momentum demonstrated by the brand through waiting too long before attempting to establish a more appealing image for Kent Golden Lights. Merit, which has used an advertising platform emphasizing taste reassurance, has steadily grown to be the leading low delivery brand with a current twelve month share average of 4.47% of total market.
With the exception of reducing deliveries for 99 mm to the level of the 84mm version (i.e. 8.0 mg, 'tar', 0-7 mg. nicotine), Lorillard's product strategy for Golden Lights has remained unchanged since late 1976 when K. S. deliveries were reduced to 8.0 mg. 'tar' from 9.0 mg.
The domestic experience with Kent Golden Lights seems to indicate that even in a market where smoker concern is highly developed, consumers still prefer brands positioned on a platform of taste reassurance and maintenance of smoking pleasure, supported by low deliveries.