V2 Tobacco and Snus: Delivering REAL Snus Real Snus Users want by Asking Them
From V2 Tobacco's humble beginnings in 2003, brothers Marc and Patrick Vogel have done more than just paid lip service to satisfying their customer's desires. Over the years, many new products they have developed were first blind-tested using a select group of snusers from around the world. Their thoughts were not only solicited, but acted upon even if against the Vogel's personal preferences. A prime example was the recently introduced Thunder Berry Extra Strong Snus.
There were two series of blind tests. The one chosen by the group as the winning flavor we were later told was not Patrick Vogel's choice; he preferred the one we did not choose. Despite his own preferences, he went with the group's recommendation which today is Thunder Berry ES Snus.
The Thunder Snus brand is one of V2's most popular; especially in the United States. Thunder Snus was the first of the Extra Strong / Extra Stark very high nicotine snuses at 16mg/pouch of nicotine and started the nicotine race to the top. Today, a few brands; the latest being skruf Xtra Stark Snus, exceed that, but V2 has capitalized on the desire in the US and Norway for Extra high nicotine snus by dedicating an entire brand to it. Thunder Extra Strong Snus has the largest flavor diversity of strong nicotine snus across original sized portions to loose snus to mini portion snus. Thunder Frosted Extra Strong snus in it's various varieties are top sellers at our Snus Store as well as many others.
Thunder Original ES is one of my favorite traditionally flavored Extra Strong portion snuses to this day. Sadly, "one of" is the operative phrase; not only for me personally, but for everyone who counts Thunder Original ES Portion as a favorite. When it first was released, I bought it by the roll. But today I also enjoy General Ekstra Stark, skruf Stark, and a few others which occupy the same broad taste and nicotine profile. This hasn't stopped me from using and enjoying Thunder Original, but I don't buy rolls anymore since my selections in these area are now broader while my refrigerator and snus budget have stayed the same size.
Despite it's popularity, Thunder Original ES has suffered in sales because of the larger range of equally excellent snuses in that flavor/nicotine category. The Vogel's decided it was time to take action.
Replacing a popular but under-performing snus, the V2 Tobacco way
Most other snus manufacturers; Swedish and American, would simply de-list (discontinue) production and that snus would go away. V2 follows this practice too where it's obvious a particular snus is just not hitting the cord with snus consumers. Thunder Original was different. All the Thunder snus offerings share the same tobacco and the same nicotine per gram levels. Leaving a hole in the Thunder line of a traditional tasting snus was really not an option for the Vogels. This meant a new recipe and flavor profile for a new Thunder Original ES snus. This presented an enormous challenge in not only choosing a unique and winning traditional recipe which would stand out among other snuses, but letting snusers know that the eventual new Thunder ES Original should not be confused with the old on a global scale.
Introducing a new traditional flavored high nicotine Scandinavian snus in a now crowded field of high quality options was not a task V2 wanted to take without snus users themselves having substantial input.
Innovative marketing and consumer interaction has been the key to V2's huge success from the beginning. Patrick decided to take this to a completely new level. The Vogels had perfected and narrowed down the choices for the new Thunder Original to 5 very different recipes. But instead of using their group of core blind taste testers, they wanted all snusers; especially Thunder brand fans, to play an integral part in the selection process. And so the five recipes were produced; all in identical cans except for the product #: OT1 through OT5. OT stands for Original Test.
The OT series would be packaged in a half-roll containing one can of OT1 through OT5. In late March, the SnusCIA was contacted by V2 using back-door channels. Login's and passwords to the survey site were issued to a select group of SnusCENTRAL.org Members. Their purpose was to check the site for functionality and the content for readability in American English. They were somewhat confused since we couldn't tell them about the OT Series and they had no idea what they were supposed to be rating or why.
A secret SnusCENTRAL group of one proofed the final copy for the product sticker and made unsolicited suggestions as he is prone to do. The launch was planned Week 18 which is the week I am writing this article with customer pre-orders beginning the beginning of April. Unfortunately, some delays not the least of which is the fault of despised Iceland, have pushed back the availability date to Week 21-22. Since Iceland bans the consumption of snus, I wouldn't be surprised if they timed the volcanic eruptions just to disrupt this product launch.
When one website jumped the gun (or didn't read the memo) in posting Thunder OT Series was available for pre-order, they provided very little information at first. This did result in some consternation among veteran V2 snus users which can be summed up as "Why the Hell should I pay for 5 cans of test snus???" Which brings us to how the Thunder OT series is a win/win...literally.
Win a Trip for two to Billund, Denmark and a tour of the New V2 Snus Factory!
Why should you not only try the Thunder OT Series, but more importantly, why should you invest a couple minutes filling out an on-line survey after you've tried all 5? Here are some compelling incentives; the last of which makes this a Huge Win for everyone:
- Each 5 Can Thunder OT Series package contains a unique, one time participant code. These codes will enter all the survey participants into a Prize Drawing to be held later this year.
- GRAND PRIZE: A one week trip for two to Billund, Denmark! Includes airfare, accommodations at the famous Hotel Legoland, and most exciting: a tour of the brand new V2 Snus Factory in June of 2011!
- FIRST PRIZE: Ten...that's 10 ROLLS of the Thunder Snus of your choice PLUS a Thunder T-shirt AND a Thunder Mousepad from SnusGEAR.com!
- SECOND PRIZE: Five ROLLS of the Snus of your choice PLUS a Thunder T-shirt AND a Thunder Mousepad from SnusGEAR.com!
- THIRD PRIZE: One ROLL of the Snus of your choice PLUS a Thunder T-shirt AND a Thunder Mousepad from SnusGEAR.com!
- Because you are paying for the 5 Original Test Series snuses, you are getting the final version of each recipe. Your taste buds will be spared the sometimes-horror of blind-tasting beta versions. Sure, it's exciting to get plain cans of number coded or color coded mystery snus. The only drawback is that you get what you pay for. Some of the pre-pre-final choices we are sent by different manufacturers could drive you to Camel SNUS or Marlboro snus, they are THAT bad! OK, maybe nothing is as bad as American pseudo-snus, but we've tasted snus recipes never meant for human consumption; and I don't mean 2 year old Snus AB-made Gran Prix. I still have snus nightmares over one test can in particular.
- If your favorite can of Thunder OT Series wins, you can impress your friends of both sexes by casually mentioning "Oh, this Thunder Snus? The manufacturer asked for my input. I approved the new flavor personally." You're an instant Snus Guru!
- If your favorite can of Thunder OT doesn't receive the most votes, you can tell your friends "Oh, sure: This new Thunder Snus is really good but if they had only listened to me, it would have been great!" They'll have to take your word for it because they won't be able to get any of the other 4 OT varieties to compare. You're still an instant Snus Guru!
- And EVERYONE can humiliate Big American Tobacco by writing/posting/tweeting "Hey, Big American Tobacco: here's a REAL snus that WE selected; not one that was rammed down our throats by you arrogant, customer-ignoring, Old Cigarette Guy marketing bastards! Not only that, it has more free nicotine in ONE pouch than your entire can/blister card/bag of pseudo snus contains too!" This will lead to weeks if not months of Internet fun for all! SnusGEAR will probably make t-shirts or something you can wear proudly which delivers the same message....if FDA doesn't have us arrested.
And that is the story behind Thunder Original Test Series Snus. Only a few very classified facts have been omitted but now you know more than anyone but the SnusCIA and V2 Tobacco. It goes without saying that Thunder OT Series Snus is available from our Snus Store. We don't make much on it...our contribution to the Thunder cause and our Members and customers. Of the Swedish Big Three Internet Snus Stores, of course SnusCENTRAL.com has the best price too.
Be a part of the this grand consumer-centric Thunder Snus solution: help YOUR favorite OT Series Snus to be THE favorite OT Series Snus....and the new Thunder Original Extra Strong Snus! And maybe, just maybe, be the first snus user (and guest) to tour the new V2 Snus factory..... which will put you one-up on me. I've already pre-ordered my Thunder OT, and I will take the survey to vote for my personal favorite. I'm not eligible for the contest though. No one in the UNZ family is. Stupid rules.
Good luck to all of you and lets pick a great new snus!
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org