The quality of Lab snus is of course prominent but it is Swedish Match's laser-like focus on the peculiarities and tastes of each market they enter which in large part have played the starring role. The best snus in the world won't sell if the taste and characteristics don't reflect those of their consumers.
I experienced that first hand as a consumer participant in the Dallas focus groups Swedish Match conducted when entering the US market seriously. General Dry Mint Mini portion snus and General Wintergreen White portion snus were the first fruit from those market studies.
The Dry Mint mini experience alone was responsible for showing Americans what real snus tasted like compared to Camel SNUS Frosted. Bowing to consumer demand, General Large Mint White Portion snus was created 10 months later. Both are still enormously popular and led to the flood of mint flavored snuses which followed.
The Lab 13 Extra Strong Slim Portion Formula+ Snus takes this to a new level. As a study in market development alone, the degree of popularity Lab 13 achieves offers us a living laboratory (sorry, couldn't resist) we can follow along with for ourselves. Let's get started....
The Lab 13 Extra Strong Slim Portion Formula+ Snus
Research has shown 3 things are very popular to Norwegian (and coincidentally, many younger American) snus users:
- Extra Strong high nicotine snus
- Non-traditionally flavored snus
- Long/Slim non-drip portion pouches
When the Lab Series was introduced in 2009, it also introduced the snus world to the slim, non-drip portion pouch. Lab Series pouches were the first of their kind. Since then, Swedish Match has tailored and expanded their use to many of their other brands.
Other snus manufacturers have also jumped onto the slim portion pouch bandwagon with varying degrees of success.
Most importantly, I prefer the slim/long portion pouch format. General Long Portion snus has replaced General Original Portion in my personal rotation as has General Long Extra Strong over General Ekstra Sterk portion.
What makes Lab 13 unique from the other extra strong snuses in The Lab series is the flavor choice. The descriptor is two simple words: Energy Drink. The marketing name of Energy Drink for Swedish Match is Formula+.
Thus we have the incredibly long name of The Lab 13 Extra Strong Slim Portion Formula+ Snus. I do wish they had eliminated "The" from the brand. In English at least, it reads much better and is easier to locate in a snus directory.
The Lab 13: Energy Drink refers to taste, not ingredients
Swedish Match was not the first to introduce the energy drink concept to snus. These third tier snuses, most already consigned to the garbage heap of snus history, were more interested on energy drink ingredients. They added caffeine, taurine, and a host of other inexpensive energy drink ingredients.
Their only attention to flavor was apparently ensuring it was strong enough to cover up the aftertaste of the caffeine and cheap tobacco they could get away with using. No wonder most failed and any remaining were insignificant.
MYTH BUSTER: Lab 13 Extra Strong Slim Portion Formula+ does NOT contain caffeine, taurine or any other questionable additives. Formula+ refers to the taste profile Lab 13 was to present; Energy Drink. The Extra Strong 2% nicotine content is what supplies the punch.
Why energy drink flavor? That's the question I wondered. In a word, research.
In Norway, snus users in the legal age to 25 year old demographic make up around 17% of total Norwegian snus consumers. That's a pretty significant percentage.
Sales of sports drinks in Norway rose 9.5 million units, with the sub-set of energy drink sales revenue rising 15%. I think you can guess the age demographic most significant to energy drink sales....
....which brings us Lab 13; a high nicotine extra strong long portion snus with a flavor profile based on energy drinks.
After tasting The Lab 13 I can say that fans of energy drinks will not be disappointed. The flavor started out orange/lemon with the tobacco coming in a minute or two later. The sweetness is there like you would expect but not the sickly sweet some flavored snuses designed for the USA market have.
Lab 13 has just arrived at the SnusCentral.com Snus Shop so if you like flavored high nicotine snus, The Lab 13 Extra Strong Slim Portion Formula+ Snus is certainly worth trying.
Now that you have all the facts, we can sit back with a can of Lab 13 and watch the launch and acceptance in the Norwegian snus market unfold. It will be an interesting lab experiment (sorry again). Let me know what you think of Lab 13 in the comments below, on the Snus Forum, or in our Member Snus Review section.
As always, Enjoy your Snus!
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org