Puff puff! In 2020, cigarette sales in the United States jumped for the first time since 2004, according to the Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report.
Cigarette company’s marketing spend rose last year, too — but that wasn’t such a first. It had been up and down for years, and YoY upticks haven’t always boosted sales.
So why did 2020’s marketing spend increase work? It might be that cigarette companies invested in and divested from the right channels at the right time.
📈 Where tobacco companies spent more in 2020
Tobacco companies spent their marketing dollars a little differently in 2020, and more YoY on:
- Outdoor advertising: 28.6% growth — though overall US OOH ad spend dipped ~30% in 2020
- Price discounts to retailers: 5.3% growth
- Promotional allowances to retailers: 3.5% growth
📉 Where tobacco companies spent less in 2020
Tobacco companies also cut spend YoY in the following spots:
- Magazines: 50.6% decrease
- Direct mail: 37.9% decrease
- Point-of-sale materials (a.k.a ads inside retail stores): 25% decrease
Cigarette promoters invested in OOH ads right when they were cheapest, and turned declining sales around for the first time in 15 years.
Of course, cigarettes had unusual tailwinds in 2020, too. People may have also smoked more out of '90s nostalgia … or to relieve pandemic stress.