Virginia Slims are a cigarette brand primarily targeted towads women smokers and currently being produced for the domestic US market by the Altria Group, which is the entity that took over the tobacco related operations of the Philip Morris company. As their name suggests, Virginia Slims are actually a lot slimmer than other cigarette brands, since they have a circumference of only 23 mm. Moreover, they are longer than other king size cigarettes and they come at lengths of 100mm and 120mm.
Virginia Slims were launched in July 1968, first in the city of San Francisco, which was used as a test location for the brand. Although the testing period was designed to last for six months, it was actually interrupted only seven weeks later, since the brand managed in this short period to capture a 3% market penetration. The promotion campaign then went national yielding the same hugely successful results. The success is largely attributed to the slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby” which was purposely used to capitalize on the women’s rights movement and aimed at convincing women that smoking was their right and they could exercise it through a brand manufactured and designed exclusively for them. Moreover, the packaging of the brand was designed in such a way as to be light and fresh and thus more attractive looking and having a better appeal to young women, who were the brand’s primary target group of smokers.
In 1978, the Lights version of Virginia Slims was launched and it was met with a similar success as the original full strength version. In fact the market penetration of the brand was so big that rival tobacco companies were forced to release their own versions of the Virginia Slims in an attempt to compete on a level plain field. Therefore, R.J Reynolds released their Dawn brand, Liggett’s released Eve, American Tobacco Company released Misty and Brown and Williamson’s released Capri.
The manufacturer’s reaction was to release the Virginia Slims Luxury Light 120s, which was successful and managed to brake the monopoly held by the More brand of cigarettes. In 1987 the Ultra-Light variety entered the market with a 100 length, while in 1990, the Virginia Slims Ultra-Light Super Slims 100s were released featuring an even narrower circumference at 21mm. Furthermore, in 1994 the Virginia Slims Kings coming were launched, as a discount version of the popular brand and at a length of 85mm in length, however they were proven unsuccessful and were never actually launched on a national level. In 2003, a box-pack was introduced for the full-flavoured100s due to increased consumer demand for such a product. Naturally then, this harder packing is steadily displacing the traditional soft-pack. Finally, in 2008 a smaller “Purse Pack” was put to the market as it is favoured particularly by eastern European women. All these varieties are also available in Menthol flavour, which actually accounts for roughly half of all the sales of Virginia Slims.
Despite advertising bans and restrictions as well as the global anti-smoking campaign, which have taken their toll on sales volumes, the historic brand that is Virginia Slims has managed to survive and remain on the shelves of tobacco stores due to the affection and loyalty of many smokers, mostly women, who still prefer this brand over others.