Oct 132009
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Two CSU marketing professors released a two-year-long study last week that they say proves flavored cigarettes are more marketable to high school students in the Southeast and Central United States than traditional tobacco products.

Their findings come just weeks after a federal law passed the legislature banning flavored cigarettes.

The study, conducted by professors Kathleen Kelly and Ken Manning, was funded by a $100,000 grant from an organization that funds studies on American health care issues and took place over the last two years.

The research canvassed a group of 253 high school students with the average age of 16 and exposed them to three different brands and packaging of cherry flavored cigarettes, the flavor the students selected as most appealing.

According to the study, after viewing each pack, the subjects were asked to answer a series of questions about the stimuli.

Kelly’s idea to conduct this research came from an article on flavored cigarettes she read in The Wall Street Journal that said the target consumer of the product weren’t new smokers but current smokers.

“It just didn’t make sense to me. I was picturing the profile for Camel Cigarette smokers — male and blue collar,” she said, later adding, ” I can’t imagine that this primary target audience would say ‘Oh, mango flavor’.”

The study found the groups of individuals most attracted to the product are “high sensation seeking youth,” which Kelly said are aroused by novelties.

“It’s a personality trait. These individuals search for and like things that are more unique, and they are more willing to take risks in order to experience the stimuli,” she said.

The study concluded that the product was much more appealing to those high sensation-seeking young adults if it included a “sweet flavor descriptor.” Manning said there are a variety of products such as flavored alcohol that might produce the same response.

“High sensation seekers are at a high level of vulnerability to anything that creates more novelty — just the marketing approaches could heighten the arousal potential,” Manning said.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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