Marketing claims often have promoted specific perceptions that users should expect from acutely smoking that cigarette brand. Yet, little controlled study has determined the degree to which actual perceptions are based on the cigarette’s tobacco constituents in the absence of knowledge about the brand’s identity.
194 adult dependent smokers rated their perceptions on ‘liking’, ‘satisfying’, ‘strong’ and perceived amount of ‘nicotine’ after smoking ad lib one of their preferred brands of cigarettes. All did so either when blinded (n=118) or unblinded (n=76) to the brand they were given, with the blinding conditions from separate studies. These between-groups secondary analyses determined differences in perceptions based on blinding to brand, controlling for age and cigarettes/day.
All perceptions were lower for those smoking own brand under blinded versus unblinded conditions, as hypothesised. Consistent with lowered perceptions for smoking one’s own brand obtained from the 118 blinded to brand, their ‘somewhat’ ratings for a ‘how similar to own brand’ item indicated uncertainty, just mid-way between ‘not at all’ and ‘very much’ on the 0–100 visual analogue scale. (The 76 unblinded were already informed it was their own brand.)
Acute perceptions of one’s own cigarette are substantially lower when smokers are simply unaware of brand, relative to those aware it is their preferred brand. Results support the notion that perceptions of smoking own brand are enhanced by marketing efforts to associate brands with expectations of pleasurable subjective effects, beyond the impact due solely to the cigarette’s manufactured product constituents.