By Julia Marchionda
The Canadian retail storefronts for IQOS, a smoking cessation concept from Rothmans, Benson, and Hedges Inc, will now be called Q-Lab after a naming campaign. The name change is due to Health Canada’s restrictions on advertising tobacco, which rendered the company unable to install signage on its storefronts. The government organization claimed that the IQOS name promoted tobacco-related uses and such advertising is prohibited.
Back in January, Retail Insider reported that the company was looking for consumer input regarding the new name. Consumers had the choice between QUBE or Q-Lab, with the latter coming out on top.
The company opened its West Edmonton Mall flagship store with no signage, after Health Canada made its decision, which was a bold move on the part of Philip Morris International’s Canadian subsidiary. The retailer now known as Q-Lab operates street front locations in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver – all of which are much smaller than their Edmonton flagship and were similarly without signage. As Retail Insider reported, the company wanted to see how successful they would be in a high-traffic property like West Edmonton Mall.
The Q-Lab stores provide a new retail experience for smoking clients wanting to explore this alternative product. Traditionally, tobacco products are sold over the counter in places like corner stores and gas stations. This retail concept creates an opportunity for customers to experience the product in person as well as receive assistance from in-store experts.
The IQOS technology is unique to Rothmans, Benson and Hedges Inc. It features three different components to the electronic tobacco heating device: a Heatstick containing tobacco, an IQOS holder, and a charger that is roughly the size of a cell phone. The Heatsticks are made specifically to be used with IQOS and features a specially formulated tobacco blend. IQOS is designed to help transition current cigarette clients into a smokeless alternative.
While Parent company Philip Morris International launched permanent storefronts in Canada, its strategy in Germany involved launching pop-up boutiques which allowed them to introduce the product quickly to a large number of smokers. It remains to be seen if a similar strategy might be adopted for the new Q-Lab banner in Canada, which is also expected to see further expansion as smokers seek alternatives to traditional cigarettes.
A graduate from both the University of Toronto and Humber College, Julia spent most of her educational career honing her skills in critical thinking, marketing communications, and finding her unique voice in her writing.
With tenures in several areas of retail under her belt, Julia has lead teams in achieving sales goals and allowed herself to become consumed in understanding retail business.