Running a socially responsible business, reporting according to ESG philosophies and caring for the future of the planet are increasingly common pillars of companies’ long-term strategies. Some, however, attach particular importance to them due to the nature of their business.
BAT, which has been present in Poland for 30 years, is such a company, along with its eSmoking World sales network.
Modern design and a number of improvements to the chain’s points of sale, introduced in line with the idea of sustainable development, to provide consumers with the best possible shopping experience, improve the comfort of employees and reduce environmental impact.
Rafał Mastalerz, Head of Retail, BAT Polska, tells Poland Weekly what the implementation of these assumptions looks like in practice.
You are the managing director of, among others, the Inspiration Store and eSmoking World chains, which belong to BAT Polska. Could you point out the main advantage of having your own sales network.
In order to answer this question precisely, we need to explain the purpose for which BAT (British American Tobacco) operates – through CHIC – the Inspiration Stores and eSmoking World sales network. The key and strategic objective of such an activity is to build awareness among adult customers of three segments, the so-called new categories. We are talking about alternatives for smokers to use nicotine in the form of e-cigarettes, tobacco warmers and nicotine sachets. Our role is to reach the customer where they expect us to be active and present. In 2020, BAT announced a new global strategy, ‘A Better Tomorrow.’ In line with this strategy, ‘A Better Tomorrow’ is about mature choices made based on the range of different options we want to offer our customers. That is why we continue to develop our portfolio of alternative nicotine products so that they satisfy consumers and meet their needs. An important trend and concern for our company is the aforementioned reduction of the risks associated with the use of traditional tobacco products, so our aim is to generate an increasing proportion of revenue from alternative products to reduce the health impact of our business. In the not too distant future, revenues from the sale of new categories are expected to exceed the turnover generated by traditional products. From BAT’s perspective, the in-house network represents a unique point of contact with the consumer. Through our advisors, we are able to explain to customers the opportunities presented by new alternatives to traditional cigarettes. This cannot be done in any other better way, which is why the own-store network is the core of our strategy.
Are there plans to open new outlets in the network?
We are analyzing opportunities and courses of action so that our offer is available wherever there is a growing demand for new categories of nicotine products that are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Our ambition is to be present in all key shopping malls to reach as many adult smokers of traditional cigarettes as possible, offering them the products of our global brands GLO, VUSE and VELO. I will point out that we intend to gradually adapt the sales network to the new model, which is called Inspiration Store. We currently have 70 such points and are opening more every month.
What was behind the decision to transform the points of sale into Inspiration Stores?
Our Better Tomorrow strategy places particular emphasis on reducing the damage of the company’s activities to health and the environment. As already mentioned, the company aims to anticipate and meet the changing expectations of consumers, offering them satisfying choices while reducing health risks. And it was this multiplicity of choice options that gave rise to the search for a term that would expose this choice most clearly.
Inspiration is the beginning of the search for new possibilities, the deepening of knowledge about them and, finally, the fully conscious use of a specific product. This is how the name Inspiration Store was born, which is carried by the most prestigious points of the eSmoking World network. By the end of this year, we plan to have more than 100 of them, and it is gratifying to see that this new launch has been very positively received by both consumers and our advisory team. A wide selection of products and a modern, designer space are our strengths.
Who is the chain’s offer aimed at?
Our offer is aimed exclusively at adult users of nicotine products. We place great emphasis on making adult nicotine consumers aware of the different choices available to them, and our company currently offers the largest selection of alternative nicotine categories on the market. I will point out that we place great emphasis on respecting and calling for respect for the ban on the sale of these products to minors. Let me remind you of the ‘Zero Compromise’ campaign. Although Polish law clearly prohibits the sale of nicotine products to minors, not everyone complies with it. The aim of this campaign, launched by our network in 2020, was to draw attention to the need to protect young people from access to nicotine.
The tobacco industry is not spontaneously associated with sustainability and the ESG philosophy. How do you want to change this?
Running a socially responsible business, reporting according to ESG philosophies, caring for the future of the planet – these are increasingly common pillars of companies’ long-term strategies. Communication referring to values, including the creation of pro-environmental attitudes, is already something of a natural direction for business, both for its creators and recipients. Sustainability programmes are already being introduced by almost all major companies, but BAT pays special attention to this. When designing the Inspiration Stores, we focused on using environmentally friendly solutions. In the aforementioned Inspiration Stores, we only use LED lighting, consumer information has been transferred to screens that are updated centrally. As a result, we no longer use paper and, in the absence of physical distribution of such materials, we reduce fuel consumption, among other things.
In addition, we have placed containers in the network’s outlets for the collection of used electronic cigarettes and tobacco warmers. In addition to their recycling purpose, they are intended to store the replacement cartridges used by consumers. The containers themselves are made entirely of recycled materials.