- Thomson Reuters
Why do people like smoking cigarettes? It depends on the person.
A study, published a few years ago by market research pioneer Howard Moskowitz, identified at least three types of smokers and other market patterns.
– Some people think smoking helps them live for the moment and have fun.
– Some people think smoking centers them and calms their nerves.
– Some people just like smoking and don’t think about it beyond that.
Of course, this is looking only at why people consciously like smoking. It’s not considering the psychobiological effects of nicotine and other chemicals that make cigarettes addicting.
Moskowitz, who holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Harvard, developed a technique that asks participants to rate descriptions that mix and match different terms to identify hidden preferences. We’re reviewing some of his research, from insights that led to the creation of Extra-Chunky Prego pasta sauce and Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper to his recent plan to help Donald Trump.
In the tobacco study, conducted for an unnamed client, 102 smokers were asked how close various descriptions came to their ideal smoking experience. According to Moskowitz, they fell in around equal numbers into three types.
The first type mentioned above – called “grab life” people in the study – responds positively to idealistic phrases like “live for today,” “to help you enjoy life,” and “be true to yourself.”
The second type – “centering self” people – is only interested in smoking when it’s described in certain ways. They respond very positively to “strong and rich taste,” “a soothing experience,” “for when you are under pressure,” “quickly calm your nerves,” “creates a feeling of freedom,” and “filtered for a healthier smoke.”
The third type – “touchy relaxers” – is very open to smoking in general but doesn’t want to talk about it. They respond negatively to almost every description except “relaxing with friends.”
The study also identified preference patterns among existing groups, breaking down respondents by brand preference, demographics, and more.
– Marlboro smokers responded positively to mentions of “Marlboro” and “world’s finest tobacco.” In fact, most smokers have a positive or neutral response to the word “Marlboro” – a sign of a strong brand.
– Newport smokers responded positively to “a soothing experience,” “Newport,” “party,” and “live for today.”
– Camel smokers responded positively to “quickly calm your nerves,” “a soothing experience,” “creates a feeling of freedom,” and “world’s finest tobacco.” Strangely, they have a slightly negative reaction to “Camel.”
– Pall Mall smokers responded positively to “Pall Mall,” “a soothing experience,” “world’s finest tobacco,” and “free to choose.”
Meanwhile, female smokers responded more positively to brand names and descriptive traits. Male smokers were more likely to want cigarettes plain and simple.
Moskowitz says the client that backed this study never followed up with him, so he doesn’t know if they’re using these insights. Regardless, he writes in the study that big tobacco historically “purchased the best research minds to help them understand the mind of the consumer.”
Cigarettes, needless to say, are horrifyingly bad for your health.