TitleContent analysis of internet marketing strategies used to promote flavored electronic cigarettes.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsSoule, EK, Sakuma, K-L, Palafox, S, Pokhrel, P, Herzog, TA, Thompson, N, Fagan, P
JournalAddict Behav
Date Published04/2019
KeywordsAdvertising, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, Flavoring Agents, Humans, Internet, Marketing, Product Packaging, Vaping

INTRODUCTION: Flavored e-cigarette (ECIG) use and Internet marketing have increased in the U.S. This study examined the content used to promote flavored ECIG liquids on retailer websites.

METHODS: Four ECIG liquid retailers from four U.S. geographic regions (n = 16) were randomly selected. Menthol, apple, and tobacco flavored liquids were purchased in April of 2016 (n = 144, 48 unique flavors). Staff analyzed the text and image descriptors displayed on liquid bottles and retailer websites and coded content for presence of specific flavor, taste/smell, chemesthesis (i.e., touch), America/patriotic, and product quality/potentially modified risk content. A follow-up of retailer websites was conducted in March 2018.

RESULTS: Nearly all (97.9%) ECIG liquids included a description that promoted flavor. Most descriptions including images of something other than an ECIG liquid bottle (e.g., 62% of tobacco ECIG liquid images included dried tobacco leaves, 43% of menthol ECIG liquid images included mint leaves or ice, 62% of apple ECIG liquid images included an apple). Images often promoted product sensations (e.g., cool, ice), sweet tastes of other products (e.g., chocolate, apple pie), or other appeals (e.g., America). Menthol and apple descriptions/images were more likely than tobacco descriptions/images to promote appeals related to chemesthesis (e.g., cool, warm, moist; p < .05). Most flavors were still available in 2018 and included the same flavor descriptions from 2016.

CONCLUSIONS: Flavored ECIG liquid marketing often includes text descriptions and images that appeal to consumer sensations. Studies are needed to examine how access to point-of-sale Internet advertisements influences attitudes, perceptions, and purchasing of ECIG products, especially among at-risk populations such as youth.

Alternate JournalAddict Behav
PubMed ID30606627
Grant ListP50 DA036105 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States