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What should a good HNB(Heat Not Burn Tobacco) Taste like?

s one of the main forms of heated tobacco, heat not burnproducts (HNB) are developing rapidly in the world. Take IQOS as an example. In 2020, over 1500000 cases were shipped and 17600000 users worldwide. In the country, although there is no liberalization of the sale of tobacco HNB(heat not burn)  products, However, the “national team” represented by Yunnan Tobacco, Sichuan Tobacco and Hubei Tobacco as well as Zhengzhou Institute of Tobacco actively promotes technology research and development, product iteration and overseas testing. In addition, it is understood that the domestic HNB(heat not burn) product standards are being developed. The establishment and promulgation of standards is of great significance for promoting the development of HNB(heat not burn)  in China.

Under this process of the times, a question gradually surfaced:

A good HNB product, what should be the taste?


This question will lead to a series of thinking:

From consumer perception, what dimensions should be used to evaluate the taste of an HNB(heat not burn) ?

At present, the consumption of HNB(heat not burn)  is mainly the transition from traditional cigarette consumers to HNP. Therefore, a good product must take into account the taste characteristics of these two products, so as to achieve smoother consumption transformation.

Is the relationship between HNB (heat not burn) and cigarette only a one-way substitute? Is there a possibility that HNB and cigarettes not only have more harmonious taste, but also stimulate each other to enhance the consumer experience, to achieve a similar effect of 1 + 1 > 2?


What is good about the taste comparison between Chinese heated cigarettes and international products? Where is the gap?


In order to answer the above questions, Scroll Think Tank and Sichuan Tobacco Heated Tobacco team worked together for 3 months, through online questionnaire (1,569 people), expert interviews and other ways to study. At the “Kung Fu · MINIS Global Promotion Conference” on December 8, 2020, the project team released the results of the study for the first time. The full report was published in the March 2021 issue of “New Tobacco” (sponsored by China Tobacco Shanghai Research Institute of Novel Tobacco).


Ms. Guo Xiaoyu, Volume Think Tank, explained the results of this study

The full text of the study appears in the first issue of New Smoke, 2021

Main findings and conclusions


(1) The evaluation system of Chinese-style heated cigarettes has not only the inheritance of traditional cigarettes, but also unique new indicators.

Chinese style heated cigarette for Chinese smokers has the attributes of combining consumer habits and behavior preferences in the product style system. The sensory evaluation system of this new category has not only inherited the traditional Chinese cigarette evaluation system, but also has the unique innovative indicators, such as consistency, throat feeling and so on.


(2) To evaluate the taste of heated cigarettes, we should consider introducing dynamic indexes: transformation and fusion.

As an innovative product, heated cigarette is still in the dynamic process of gradual development and improvement, and the cultivation and transformation of its consumer groups are also in the process of dynamic. In this situation, the introduction of dynamic thinking mode is necessary and critical to the construction of sensory evaluation system for heated cigarette consumers.

(3) Conversion Indicators: How to Benefit Consumption Conversion of Heated Cigarettes

Convertibility is a series of indicators that have more influence on consumers’ consumption behavior from traditional cigarettes to heated cigarettes, including: the amount of smoke, the original flavor of tobacco, the flavor Rich, stimulating and consistent.

Consumption pain points perceived more clearly by new entrants than by stable users

(4)Integration Metrics: How to Improve the Experience of “Mixed-out” Users

Fusion is a series of indexes, which are more sensitive and concerned to the fusion consumer of traditional cigarette and heated cigarette, including original flavor, fine smoke, coordination and consistency.


Discriminant Factors Valued More by Mixed Consumers than Only Smoking Heated Cigarettes

(5) Compared with foreign mainstream brands, broad and narrow brands have obvious advantages in “Chinese style” indicators.

Based on the sensory evaluation system of Chinese-style heated cigarette consumers, this paper compared and evaluated the heated cigarette products of Marlboro brand and Kuanqiao brand in the international market. The results show that: wide and narrow brand products in the “Chinese” indicators on the obvious advantages.


Fusion consumer versus original group


From “Chinese-style cigarette” to “Chinese-type tobacco” As a new tobacco technology, HNB was first proposed by foreign tobacco companies and occupied the current mainstream position. From the perspective of tobacco science and technology, Chinese tobacco industry should actively learn and absorb these advanced ideas and technologies with an open mind. However, from the perspective of China’s “sovereign security of addictions,” the development of Chinese HNB(heat not burn)  should also focus on R & D and building in line with Chinese market taste.


In the traditional cigarette era 20 years ago, China Tobacco put forward the concept of “Chinese cigarette,” which established the flavor tone of China’s tobacco market and formed a taste advantage with international tobacco giants. In the new tobacco era, how to continue to maintain an advantage in taste; How to promote the integrated consumption of traditional cigarettes and new tobacco; How to upgrade from “Chinese-style cigarette” to “Chinese-type tobacco…” The discussion of these problems is of great significance to the development of Chinese tobacco and new tobacco industry.

Regulation, technology and consumption are the three major problems, which need to be solved in the development of HNB (heat not burn) in China. With the introduction of “3 · 22 decision,” the regulatory risk of new tobacco will gradually disappear; In terms of technology, both China Tobacco and Shenzhen New Tobacco Industry Cluster are achieving breakthroughs in R & D from their respective perspectives, such as NSCs technology of Zhengzhou Institute of Tobacco.


In the field of consumption, this study explores the development of Chinese flavors in HNB(heat not burn) , and how to promote the integration of HNA and traditional cigarettes consumption. These efforts will make the whole industry more confident to look forward to the development of HNB(heat not burn)  in China.


Limited to time and conditions, for the “Chinese-style heated cigarette consumer sensory evaluation system,” this study is only a beginning; there are still many shortcomings. More in-depth analysis and discovery, expect the majority of tobacco practitioners to participate in and efforts.


Post time: Aug-06-2021
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