208170 Why and How of Tobacco Industry Direct Mail Marketing: Evidence from Tobacco Industry Documents

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:30 AM

M. Jane Lewis, DrPH , School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
Mary Hrywna, MPH , School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
Background: Direct mail from tobacco companies to those on their extensive databases provides the industry with a way of communicating directly with consumers while operating out of sight of the general public and under the radar screen of public health and regulating agencies.

Methods: Analysis of previously secret tobacco industry documents.

Results: Research into the use of direct mail and development of databases containing detailed information on consumers began in the early 1980s. In less than 10 years the two largest cigarette manufacturers had each compiled databases containing the names of 25-40 million smokers and were mailing millions of pieces both to reinforce and reward brand loyalty and to attract competitive smokers. A variety of means, including purchase of mailing lists and recruitment through brand promotional efforts (e.g., sign-ups at industry events or sweepstakes entries) have been employed to capture names and information for databases. Databases are updated regularly, often with information collected through direct mail, and include information on consumer demographics, smoking preference, psychographics and consumer participation in brand marketing activities.

Discussion: Direct mail is valued by the tobacco industry for its ability to more precisely target smokers, build and foster relationships with them, bypass restrictions on tobacco marketing and reduce the visibility of industry marketing to others. To the extent that direct mail marketing may be successful in maintaining and increasing tobacco sales, it may negatively influence health and undermine pro-health policy initiatives by encouraging increased consumption and discouraging smoking cessation.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the development of tobacco industry direct mail marketing 2. Describe the industry’s purposes for direct mail 3. Describe the development of industry databases

Keywords: Tobacco Industry, Tobacco Control

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author on this content because I have extensive experience in conducting qualitative research on direct mail and other tobacco industry marketing strategies.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.