R.J. Reynolds Rolling Out New Salem Packaging

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R.J. Reynolds Rolling Out New Salem Packaging

CHICAGO -- R.J. Reynolds will try to reinvigorate the slumping Salem cigarette brand with packaging changes rolling next month that more clearly mark the menthol brand's two different tastes.

Smooth-tasting Salem will be available in a Green Label Box with a flip top, and the richer menthol blend will be packaged in a Black Label Slide Box. Currently, the lighter formulation is packaged in a green soft pack and the richer version -- distributed since 1999 in about 10 markets -- is in a slide box, also green. Consumers were not clear that RJR was offering a single brand with two different tastes, said Rhonda Plummer, Salem's vice president of marketing.

She added that the switch should lift Salem to better positioning because consumers tend to shop by color and three-quarters of all menthol cigarettes sold are in hard packs. Creating a bit of news could also get some notice from smokers of competitive brands like Newport, the leading menthol from Lorillard, Philip Morris's Marlboro Milds and Brown & Williamson's Kool.

The packaging continues the use of Salem's icon -- the green orb -- which debuted in the 1998 "It's not what you expect" campaign. Plummer declined to divulge advertising details. The launch will be supported at retail with buydowns starting at $6.50 per carton. Salem's third-quarter market share slipped to 2.3 percent vs. 2.7 percent for the comparable 2001 period, according to Brandweek, a sister company of Convenience Store News.