South Korean media etoday reported on January 29 that British American Tobacco (BAT) has entered the Korean e-cigarette market on a large scale for the first time, investing a lot of resources to expand its sales network and coverage, aiming to expand into areas dominated by small and medium-sized brands.
According to reports in the tobacco business, BAT decided to take strategic moves in a market that has not been touched by other large tobacco companies in order to gain a dominant position in the market. At present, BAT's share of the domestic cigarette e-cigarette market is relatively limited, and the company plans to improve performance by increasing its liquid e-cigarette business.
It is reported that starting this month, BAT will expand the sales points of liquid e-cigarette "Vuse Go 800" to all South Korea. This marks the first time BAT has promoted the product nationwide since it began selling e-cigarettes in certain areas of South Korea's capital area in July last year. As of now, consumers can purchase Vuse Go 800 at more than 30,000 convenience stores and vape shops across South Korea.
This is the first time since 2020 that BAT has launched a large-scale operation in the domestic liquid e-cigarette market. Previously, KT&G, Korea Philip Morris (KT&G, MOPHILIPS) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI Korea) did not launch liquid e-cigarettes, mainly due to government regulatory restrictions. The government twice recommended a moratorium on the use of liquid e-cigarettes in September and October 2019 due to severe lung injury incidents in the United States. As a result, the market has shrunk sharply, KT&G has suspended sales of e-cigarette "Lil Vapor", and American tobacco company JUUL Labs has withdrawn from the Korean market in 2020.
According to research by the European Health Research Institute (EUROMONITOR), South Korea's liquid e-cigarette market size was 110 billion won in 2019, while the market size has only remained at 50 billion won since 2020. Currently, small and medium-sized brands such as “Bubble Mon” dominate the e-cigarette market, and there is currently no clear “strongest player”.
BAT said they plan to become a leader in the liquid e-cigarette market. Vuse's market share in Seoul has more than tripled in a month, providing BAT with confidence. Although BAT's share in the domestic tobacco-based e-cigarette market is relatively small, the company plans to quickly become the leading brand in the domestic liquid e-cigarette market by actively expanding its sales network and product lines.