Influence of premium versus value brand names on the smoking experience in a plain packaging environment: an experimental study Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:To examine the effect of branding, as indicated by brand name, on evaluation of the cigarette smoking experience. DESIGN:Between-subjects and within-subjects experimental study. Participants were randomly allocated to smoke a cigarette from a pack featuring a premium brand name and a cigarette from a pack featuring a value brand name. Within each condition, participants unknowingly smoked two identical cigarettes (either two premium or two value cigarettes). SETTING:Australia, October 2014, 2 years after tobacco plain packaging implementation. PARTICIPANTS:81 current cigarette smokers aged 19-39 years. From apparently premium and value brand-name packs, 40 smokers were allocated to smoke the same actual premium cigarettes and 41 were allocated to smoke the same actual value cigarettes. PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES:Experienced taste (flavour, satisfaction, enjoyment, quality, liking, mouthfeel and aftertaste), harshness, dryness, staleness, harm/strength measures (strength, tar, lightness, volume of smoke), draw effort and purchase intent. RESULTS:Cigarettes given a premium brand name were rated as having a better taste, were less harsh and less dry than identical cigarettes given a value brand name. This pattern was observed irrespective of whether the two packs actually contained premium or value cigarettes. These effects were specific: the brand name did not influence ratings of cigarette variant attributes (strength, tar, volume of smoke, lightness and draw effort). CONCLUSIONS:Despite the belief that brand names represent genuine differences between cigarette products, the results suggest that at least some of this perceived sensory difference is attributable to brand image.

publication date

  • 2017