“Our retail strategy is based on a series of touchpoints that together create a unique ecosystem. This includes owned retail stores, online commerce, and partnerships in our existing retail networks that span across Canada,” said Patrick Sills, Manager Retail Spaces Development for the company.
“Our owned retail spaces have an open, clean and simple concept that allow the consumer to discover and learn about our product. Because our product is technical and falls in a highly-regulated category, we need to be able to explain it to the consumer. This takes time. Our stores are designed to be comfortable, making it easy for the consumer to discover the product while getting hands-on support and assistance.”
Sills said the corporate goal is to eventually phase out cigarettes and switch all current adult smokers who choose to continue smoking to smoke-free alternatives as soon as possible.
“We sell a product called IQOS – an electronic device that heats tobacco rather than burning it. It has three main components: a heat stick called a HEET, an IQOS holder, and a charger that is around the same size as a cell phone. Using the device is fairly close to the ritual of smoking and offers a cleaner alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, IQOS is not risk-free and the best way to reduce tobacco-related health risks is to quit tobacco altogether. But, for those Canadians who would otherwise continue smoking switching completely to IQOS is a better choice,” he said.
“The basis of our smoke-free product is heat-not-burn technology. This product still allows adult smokers to enjoy the true taste of tobacco without fire, ash or smoke and far less smell than a conventional cigarette.”
The company’s first Canadian store opened in April 2017 at Queen West and Peter Street in downtown Toronto. Its second Toronto store opened later in the year at Yonge Street and Wellesley Street.
“We have since expanded to cities across the country including Vancouver (Yaletown), Calgary (17th Avenue), and Edmonton (Jasper Avenue). The expansion into new geographical areas are based on our commercialization strategy and includes new locations in Richmond, BC and Markham, Ontario. We expect our first IQOS store in a commercial mall to open in the West Edmonton Mall by the end of 2018. We are always looking at new opportunities in retail and will expand into new areas when the support and resources are aligned,” said Sills, adding that its retail stores will sell devices, heat sticks, and accessories.
“We are committed to converting every current adult smoker in Canada to using IQOS so there are retail potentials across the country. Retail is just one format in which the consumer can learn about our product. We also have an online publication at IQOS.com.”
Sills said each store in its portfolio is approximately 1,500 to 2,000 square feet with 1,000 square feet of retail space and adequate back-of-house space for employees to work.
“The large space allows for an open and fresh environment which is part of our overall experience. We use natural materials and clean lines. Our stores are located in both high street locations and up and coming areas,” said Sills.