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Philip Morris bets big on low-priced Iqos

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Feb. 8, 2023 - 16:59

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PMK managing director Paik Young-jay speaks during a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday. (Philip Morris Korea) PMK managing director Paik Young-jay speaks during a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday. (Philip Morris Korea)

The South Korean unit of international tobacco company Philip Morris Korea said on Wednesday it will release Iqos Iluma One in Korea this month, amid the tobacco companies' heated competition for market share in Korea.

"The newly released Iqos Iluma One, which is the latest addition to our flagship heat-not-burn electronic cigarette brand Iqos, is most characterized by its all-in-one design," said PMK managing director Paik Young-jay during a press conference.

According to Paik, unlike the company's other Iqos products such as Iqos Iluma and Iqos Iluma Prime, the latest HNB product does not need a separate charging case and can be simply charged with a USB C charging cord.

The Iqos Iluma One is also considerably cheaper than its previous Iqos products, as it will sell at 69,000 won ($54), and approximately 50 percent and 30 percent cheaper than Iqos Iluma and Iqos Iluma Prime.

"Like other Iqos models, the Iqos Iluma One is also equipped with a 'Smartcore Induction Technology' that doesn't require tobacco sticks to be inserted into blades. This eliminates the need for a user to clean the devices," said Paik.

"Moreover, the new product reduces the levels of toxicants by 95 percent compared to traditional cigarettes, just like the existing Iqos products," he added.

However, the new product lacks the autostart function, which is installed in other Iqos products to automatically heat sticks as soon as they are inserted.

The product will officially start sales in Iqos stores, the brand's official website and convenience stores across the nation starting Feb. 16.

Philip Morris Korea's new launch of its HNB product Iqos follows a series of tobacco companies launching new HNB products in Korea.

South Korean dominant tobacco company KT&G in November last year unveiled the "lil" series of HNB devices, which are HNB products equipped with artificial intelligence.

BAT Rothmans, the South Korean business arm of the international tobacco group and the third ranking tobacco company in Korea in terms of market share, is also scheduled to launch its HNB product Glo sometime in mid-February.

Philip Morris Korea has been leading the Korean HNB product market in terms of market share since launching its first HNB device, Iqos, in Korea in 2017. However, it ceded the top spot to KT&G last year, which recorded a market share of 45 percent during the first quarter of 2022. Philip Morris Korea recorded 41.9 percent the same period.

Philip Morris Korea said during a press conference it expects to regain the top spot with the new product.

"The Iqos Iluma series has attracted favorable reviews from customers with its sophisticated design and convenience that does not require cleaning," said Paik.

"If the current response continues, I think we can take the leading position of noncombustible products in the market," he added.

Iqos Iluma One (Philip Morris Korea) Iqos Iluma One (Philip Morris Korea)