KT&G’s figures for 2015 has shown that the company is now the world’s fifth largest tobacco manufacturer, having sold 46.5 billion cigarettes overseas, for the first time exceeding the 40.6 billion sold domestically. Company officials have credited the super-slim and low-tar product, Esse, for this growth.
KT&G’s leadership position in the Middle East and Central Asia, both markets where multiple global tobacco producers faced setbacks, paved the way for KT&G to increase their overseas marketing efforts. In 2008 the company expanded its manufacturing line in Iran and Russia. It then acquired the sixth-largest tobacco producer in Indonesia in 2011. Now, the company has expanded its markets to the US, Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region, which combined brought in close to 40% of KT&G’s 2015 profits. The marketing pitch in these markets was to promote varied super-slim, low-tar options to the markets rather than pushing one significant brand. KT&G’s Time was a hit in the US while Esse was popular in the Asia-Pacific region
New market sales for KT&G grew last year, most noticeably in the US, with a nearly 40% increase from 2014; Mongolia, where Esse sales grew 120-fold, and Africa, where 2.8 billion cigarettes were sold due to the surge in demand for super-slim cigarettes there.
A company statement has announced that KT&G is “beefing up product quality to consolidate No. 1 tobacco maker position in potential overseas markets.”