“It Looks Like an Accessory”: Perception of Heated Tobacco Products and its Marketing Communication among Generation Z
BACKGROUND: Heated tobacco products along with electronic cigarettes represent the current trend in nicotine use. These novel products are appealing to teenagers and young adults especially. Generation Z representatives are characterized as native digital and internet users who are exposed to online marketing intensively including tobacco and nicotine products marketing. AIM: The purpose of this study was to explore how Generation Z perceives the promotional techniques of HTP products (IQOS and glo) in the Czech Republic.
METHODS: We conducted qualitative research using semi-structured interviews with Generation Z representatives (n = 12) having previous experience with heated tobacco products. Open coding method was used for qualitative data analysis.
RESULTS: Our study shows that participants of Generation Z are highly influenced by modern marketing techniques of tobacco industry. According to respondents, fashion and lifestyle events and influencer marketing were the main communication channels associated with heated tobacco promotion. Practical, stylish, innovative, odorless and healthier were the most frequently associated words with heated tobacco products from the respondents’ point of view. Most of the respondents use loyalty programs, benefits and discounts.
CONCLUSION: Marketing communication of heated tobacco reflects the lifestyle demand of young adults. Perception of this products as innovative, stylish and healthier may contribute to normalization of tobacco and nicotine use. Advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of novel tobacco and nicotine products should be comprehensively banned to prevent their influence on children, adolescents and non-smokers.