Kent International History
Excerpts from Kent Review
Prepared by Kent Brand Group
December 7, 1981
Kent was one of the first American filter brands to be sold overseas. Exports began shortly after the brand's U.S. debut, and licensee manufacture started in the Philippines in 1956. Unfortunately, specific country data, except for some volume figures, is unavailable to us. However, by 1970, the first year for which extensive volume information is available, Kent had attained overseas sales of about 12 billion units. Please note that the Philippines did account for a disproportionate amount, 3.8 billion units, or 54% of total licensee sales. In 1970, most of Kent???‚¬?„?s volume, roughly 7 billion units, was being attained through licensees.
Initial rapid sales growth had occurred in industrially developed countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and Australia as a result of the publication of articles and league tables depicting Kent???‚¬?„?s smoker concern benefits. However, this advantage was rapidly lost due to Lorillard's refusal to allow licensees to lower deliveries.
Kent sales peaked in 1974 with a volume close to 18 billion units. Kent???‚¬?„?s share of international sales had peaked as early as 1970.
In 1975, Lorillard decided that some sales advantage could be gained by positioning the brand differently in emerging smoker concern and non-smoker concern markets. The chief vehicle for this positioning exercise was advertising in the form of two campaigns which will be described in the Advertising/Positioning section of this document. A review of sales and share data for 1976 and 1977 would seem to indicate that this change of strategy did not reverse the brand's fortunes.
In mid-1977, Lorillard sold the international rights for Kent to BAT. Soon after, a decision was made to return to a single-minded international positioning. It was felt that the vast majority of overseas markets were or soon would rapidly become smoker concerned, and thus, to be preemptive, Kent should be clearly established as the mild, U.S. international brand. Kent was positioned as such through use of a new advertising campaign, "Fresh. Calm. Mild.", which was introduced in the second quarter of 1980.