RICHMOND, Va. -- Altria Group Inc. will launch MarkTen nationally in the second quarter of this year.
The electronic cigarette brand, part of Altria's Nu Mark LLC subsidiary, first hit stores in Indiana in August. It then expanded to its second test market, Arizona in late 2013.
At the Consumer Analyst Group of New York Conference held in Boca Raton, Fla., today, Altria CEO Marty Barrington said the category is "just leaving the starting gates" but the company "has made meaningful progress toward leadership in a short time," according to a report by The Associated Press.
"It's really early," he said. "Consumers are still choosing. They're trying to find their product, they're trying to find their brand."
Altria was the last of the big three tobacco companies to throw their hat into the e-cigarette ring. In addition to MarkTen, the Richmond-based company recently reached an agreement to purchase the e-vapor business of Green Smoke Inc. and its affiliates for approximately $110 million in cash, as CSNews Online previously reported.
"Given the early success of MarkTen in Arizona, where the brand supposedly grew to 48-percent share, Altria seems more emboldened to 'play to win' in this new category and ultimately, we believe Altria's full participation will catapult growth of the category," said Bonnie Herzog, managing director of tobacco, beverage and consumer research at Wells Fargo Securities.