A 200 years-long struggle for taste
The struggle to find better-tasting snus has been going on for over 200 years. And when Patrik Hilldingsson took up the post of communications manager at Swedish Match in 1997 at the age of 29, it was considered that a snus user was a man. That was the opinion his retiring predecessor conveyed to Patrik when they discussed the subject in the sauna after a badminton match.
The experienced Mr. Snus
His predecessor called Mr. Snus, had several decades of experience working as a communications manager at Swedish Match. So when Patrik begins at the marketing department, the snus industry is a traditional industry with a long history.
To the hairdresser
Before starting the new job, Patrik had to be photographed, so he went to the hairdresser to cut his hair. He immediately started talking with the 10 years older female hairdresser about his new job and snus. He was surprised to find out that the hairdresser was a snus user.
Female hairdresser used snus
And as it turned out, two more female hairdressers used snus at that place. Something he hadn’t expected, he thought all snus users were men. After all, that was what Mr. Snus had told him, and he should know with all his experience.
A new customer group
This was a customer group that Patrik had not heard of before. He was surprised because this was not the mental image he had of a traditional snus user. He believed prejudiced that female snus users were soccer players and boxers who were living in male environments. This was far from what he had learned in the sauna discussion the day before.
Women thoughts on snus
So to find out more about the snus using hairdressers, he invites them for dinner. What he learned at the dinner was that women don’t mind using snus, but they did not like runny and soggy snus with a strong tobacco taste. They also had other thoughts about appearance with regards to mouth and teeth. A swelling lip is not something the women want.
A possible new market
At the time snus portions had been on the market for 25 years. But Patrik sees a possibility for a new market after the spontaneous dinner with the hairdressers. He passes this knowledge to a British research firm to investigate whether these women are representative of all women. Is there a new and previously unknown customer group among the women?
The survey found women
The survey found a large number of previously unknown snus using women. Patrik realized that he had found a hitherto unknown customer group. But the women from the survey did not live up to the myth of female snus users. The women in the survey were female women according to Patrik. What started as a conversation in a sauna, Patrik now has an embryo for a new product.
Women wanted better tasting snus
The research found that women want snus with better taste and not runny and with less tobacco flavor. At the time much focus was on developing products for women. A beer for women was developed at the time, but this was a flop.
Women don’t mind using snus
The survey found that women don’t mind using snus, but they find it too runny and soggy, it tastes too much snus. They want different flavors. They also had different thoughts on mouth and teeth, the appearance is important for women.
A bump on the lip and snus on the teeth is not status among women. At the time snus portions had been on the market for 25 years. But Patrik sees a possibility after the spontaneous dinner with the hairdressers.
A dynamic time
This happens at a time in history where males and females are used in the marketing of new products. SM had, among other things, a project with pink cans aimed at women.
But Patrik killed that project, it was not something that worked on the market. We can’t make products for women or men, we are more complex than that. We need to find an inclusive middle ground instead.
The concept Catch Mini
SM starts a concept that builds on Catch portions, Catch dry mini. And after some time, investment decisions were made for this multi-million-project. Catch was very well received as a clear alternative to nicotine-addicted smokers who sought a better alternative to smoking. The first flavors released was one licorice flavor and one eucalyptus flavor.
Confident female women
The women snus users where female women according to Patrik. They were confident in their femininity and had no problems stepping into the male field of snus. From thoughts in a sauna, Patrik now had an embryo for a new product.
Catch dry has worked
After 18 months, Patrik can confirm that Catch dry has worked on the market. The licorice and eucalyptus flavor is still on the market today. Highlighting flavors is particular to modern product development.
Patrik compares with food, sweets, ice cream, coffee and everything else. Nobody thought about the taste of coffee before 1984 more than the coffee producers. Today, there are significantly more varieties of coffee, Cola Mocca and whatever it may be says Patrik.
20 years of experience
What does Patrik bring with him after 20 years of experience? People in product development, product developers, marketers themselves should be passionate about and enjoy the product that they make.
You should be curious and responsive to what you can do and how to take the product into the future. You have to talk to people, customers, in other contexts than the traditional ones.
An unusual story says Lars Öberg
According to Lars Öberg, master blender at SM, Patrik’s story about Catch dry is a bit unusual. Usually, a new project is started by a small group that discusses whether a product is missing on the market or not. They then describe what they have found to the marketing department.
If the project is given a green light, prototypes are produced and assessed with respect to texture, fingers feel, mouthfeel and appearance. The development of a new product can take up to 1.5 years.
- Scissors Photo by Nick Demou from Pexels
- Badminton Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov from Pexels
- Photo studio Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels
- Survey Photo by Lukas from Pexels
- Snus portions Bengt Wiberg - Sting Free Snus
Leave a comment
What do you prefer? Snus portions or loose snus? Leave a comment and let me know.
Take it easy and snus on
Anderscomments powered by Disqus
- The basic way to make Swedish snus at lower temperature and longer time
- The Swedish Snus portion bags revolutionized the smokeless tobacco industry
- A fantastic new invention that takes the sting out of snus
- The Swedish snus book by Bengt Sandh book review
- The snus ban in Finland can be removed after 24 years