Demand for value drives tobacco buying habits

JPS Players rolling tobaco

With a quarter of smokers now ‘dualists’, Imperial Tobacco advises retailers to make sure they are ready to capitalise on the trend and stock a range that meets the need of modern shoppers.

by Duncan Cunningham, UK Corporate Affairs Director at Imperial Tobacco & blu

A trend we’ve seen developing in recent years is a move towards more of a nicotine portfolio with adult smokers buying different Roll Your Own (RYO) and Factory Made Cigarettes (FMC) products to suit different occasions. In fact, our estimates suggest a quarter of consumers are now dual smokers.

While many smokers may be experimenting with the nicotine products available, shopper demand for value continues to drive buying habits in tobacco overall. This is a trend we expect to continue and grow in 2021 and beyond. To harness the sales opportunities this presents, retailers must be equipped with the right products and knowledge to help customers navigate the tobacco category.


As a result of the continuing shift into RYO, the segment now accounts for 45% of tobacco sales with recent volume sales growing by 30%. Sales in the Economy RYO segment are also rising and Imperial is well positioned to help retailers tap into this trend with more brands in the economy segment than any other manufacturer.

Our new JPS Players Easy Rolling Tobacco is an exciting new blend that offers an easier rolling experience and benefits from the brand recognition of one of the UK’s best-selling cigarette brands. The range is available to buy in 30g and 50g and priced at £11.95* and £19.60*, including a set of quality rolling papers.


This increasing consumer shift towards RYO products also presents new sales opportunities for tobacco-related accessories. Retailers should make sure they’re fully stocked at all times of filters, papers, lighters and other flavour-related innovations like Rizla Flavour Cards and Rizla Polar Blast Crushball filters.

Value cigarettes

While RYO is growing, FMC still accounts for the majority of tobacco sales with a 52.7% share of the market. Value for money remains a leading trend, with many seeking products offering the lowest out of pocket spend.

Our most recent FMC innovations include our new Embassy Signature range where everything is premium except the price. The range launched with Gold and Silver variants available to buy at just £9.50*, plus Embassy Signature Gold in packs of 100 at £47.50*. Embassy Signature Gold Superkings was next to join the line up as a straight swap for Embassy No.1 Red Superkings and the latest addition is Embassy Signature New Crush which features a unique cooling sensation filter.

Education key

Ensuring staff understand the different segments and respective products is arguably more important in tobacco than any other category. Shoppers have been largely reliant on the knowledge of staff ever since the display ban. Most smokers are brand loyal so many will know what they want to buy when they walk into the store. However, if their product of choice is out of stock, it can be quite an intimidating process choosing an alternative. Retailers need to ensure staff know what products are stocked and where they’re positioned on the gantry. If they can be armed with advice on what solutions they should offer if a product does go out of stock, this will go a long way to helping retain customers. It’s also crucial to make sure stock levels are maintained at all times, especially top sellers.

* Retailers are free at all times to determine the selling price of their products.