Detailed SWOT Analysis of Marlboro – The Best-Selling Cigarette Brand In The World

Updated on: Jan 16, 2022
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In our previous article, we went through a complete SWOT analysis of Corona. In this study, we are going to go through the SWOT analysis of Marlboro.

One of the world’s best-selling cigarette names in the world – Marlboro is a brand that has a high reputation among smokers due to its unique and appealing advertising to the mass market. As the brand is vintage to the world of cigarettes, operating since 1924 and the pride of Great Marlborough Street, London. Why? Because the brand has always catered to its customers in a significant manner and kept its target audience interested. 

Another aspect that gave Marlboro a leading position today is its marketing campaigns. As the world is swept away by the online stores, marketing has also taken a phenomenal turn and if you are interested in learning about the latest in the digital marketing industry – attend our Free MasterClass on Digital Marketing 101, led by the Founder and CEO of IIDE, Karan Shah.

Therefore, the goal of this article is to provide you with valuable insights surrounding the brand, using the latest facts, updates and even how Marlboro gained its supremacy in the cigarette industry. So, let’s now dive in to know more about Marlboro before starting with the SWOT analysis of Marlboro.

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About Marlboro,

SWOT Analysis of Marlboro - Marlboro Filtered Cigarette Packet

Not only an American cigarette brand but a worldwide famous cigarette brand – Marlboro is currently owned and operated as Philip Morris within the US and as Philip Morris International in international markets.

The original story of Marlboro dates back to 1846 when Philip Morris used to sell tobacco and roll cigarettes on the streets of Bond Street, London, UK. After his sudden demise due to cancer in 1873, his brothers Widow and Leopold Margaret continued the business by opening a factory on Great Marlborough Street, London, keeping their brother’s name as the company name which is Philip Morris Companies Inc.

Since then the cigarette got a simple name “Marlboro” from Great Marlborough Street and was marketed under this name until the name officially got registered and became a brand in the United States in 1924. 

SWOT Analysis of Marlboro - The Cowboy Marlboro Man

Marlboro is known for its advertising and marketing strategies including advertising ladylike cigarettes and the cowboy Marlboro Man.

Quick Stats on Marlboro
Founder Philip Morris
Year Founded 1924
Origin The United States
No. of Employees 71,000+
Company Type Public
Market Cap US$160.945 Billion (2021)
Annual Revenue US$76.047 Billion (2020)
Net Income/ Profit US$8.056 Billion (2020)


SWOT Analysis of Marlboro - Marlboro Range of Products

Products of Marlboro

  • Cigarettes
  • Codentify
  • Fine-cut rolling tobacco
  • Snuff
  • Rolling papers and tubes

Competitors of Marlboro

Marlboro competes on a global level while maintaining its quality and uniqueness, it competes with global brands such as

  • Davidoff
  • Parliament
  • Dunhill
  • Lucky Strike
  • Camel
  • Pall Mall

Now that we have seen a brief overview of the company, we can now delve right into the SWOT analysis of Marlboro.

SWOT Analysis of Marlboro

A SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning and management technique that helps an organization determine their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition or project planning. It is a useful planning system that allows Marlboro to help identify its performance about its competitors and the industry as a whole.

To better understand the SWOT Analysis of Marlboro, refer to the infographic below:

SWOT Analysis of Marlboro - SWOT Infographics of Marlboro

Let us now learn more about the SWOT Analysis of Marlboro by starting with the strengths of Marlboro.

Strengths of Marlboro

Strengths are determinants that help identify the company’s unique qualities, what features does it excel at and what makes the organization stand out from the rest of the competition.

  • Target Consumer: While most of the other cigarette brands under the competition target youngsters, Marlboro has always focused its target towards an older group; an adult and grown-up set of males and females who live luxurious and classy lives. The brand targets both men and women and in fact research indicates that the cigarette is marketed as a “ladies’ favourite”.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Marlboro has always been a consistent advertiser and over the years it has changed its slogans or positioning according to changing trends. Moreover, Marlboro advertises its cigarette as more than just a tobacco product which made Marlboro’s market share rise from more than 1% to the fourth best-selling brand.
  • Leadership in the Market: Marlboro is regarded as one of the best selling cigarettes in its respective category while being a prime leader in the export section. Further, in the U.S, Marlboro cigarettes dominate the market claiming 40%, which accounts for more than 100 million customers.
  • Sports Sponsorship: Marlboro is well known for its collaboration with motor racing especially Formula One racing where the clothing of the Ferrari team was completely done by Marlboro. Similarly, it was also the strong sponsor of other racing sequences like the Superbike world championship and Grand Prix motorcycle racing.
  • Reliable Distribution Network: Despite a ban on direct advertising, the product was at the No.1 position in FMCG products in 2019-2020 and the brand has built a reliable distribution network over the years that can cover the major potential market.

Weaknesses of Marlboro

Weaknesses are pointers that may prevent an organization from functioning at its prime level. There are areas in which Marlboro has to improve:

  • Incorporation Issues: The integration between Philip Morris International and its international operating company Altria has been undergoing a lot of legal and functional crises in turn affecting both Marlboro and other products sales.
  • Decreasing Brand Value: Marlboro is facing problems across the globe due to economic issues, causing a huge drop of $14.94 Billion in brand value from 2019 $71.96 Billion to 2021 $57.01 Billion. The reason could also be the government’s aim to reduce tobacco use. 
  • Inability to Advertise: To comply with government rules and regulations, the company cannot directly advertise its products in the market which takes increasing marketing efforts for Marlboro to how to advertise the brand indirectly. 
  • Inflating Prices: Due to an increase in taxes and regulatory impositions, the prices of cigarettes are increasing rapidly. Consumers focus on price and buy cheaper local cigarettes ignoring quality, thereby might lead to losses for Marlboro. 

Opportunities for Marlboro

Opportunities are prominent external circumstances that may provide Marlboro with a competitive advantage.

  • Increased Awareness of Foreign Brands in Various Countries: In emerging nations like India, for example, where the number of clubs and pubs are increasing in the city, a majority of people ask for the brand ‘Marlboro’ due to its universality in the US, Canada and various other nations.
  • Launch New Varieties: Marlboro only deals in 4 varieties of cigarettes named light, ultra-light, medium and mild. Marlboro should think of launching new products like new cigarette varieties. Marlboro can also consider launching cigarettes that may be low-tobacco to decrease the rising health impacts of smoking.
  • Improve its Digital Presence: Being one of the top cigarette brands in the world, Marlboro should take the opportunity of the booming digital era and build a stronger relationship with its customers online using digital marketing strategies. Having a strong digital presence creates a lasting impression and attracts new customers.

Bonus Tip: You must also market your business digitally using the above digital marketing strategies. But, to apply the latest digital marketing strategies, first, you should learn various sets of digital marketing skills from a renowned institute like IIDE where experts from the digital industry are the instructors of these courses. Also, learning these skills has been proven beneficial for candidates who are looking for career growth and job opportunities. So, do check out these links for your benefit.

  • Strong Free Cash Flow: There is a strong free cash flow that puts resources into the hands of the company to expand into new projects. Also, it can buy its rivalries to establish itself as the strongest brand all over the world. 

Threats to Marlboro

Threats are factors that have the likelihood to disrupt an organization. 

  • Government Regulations: Marlboro should monitor the fast-changing government regulations under the growing pressure from protest groups and non-government organizations, especially regarding the aspects of consumer health and labour safety.
  • Competitors’ Low Prices: The company may be challenged to control its prices as compared to its main competitors. Other competitors have lower prices compared to them. Consumers may opt to purchase cheaper products that may look and taste like Marlboro cigarettes.
  • The Subject of Litigation: With tobacco being addictive and the single most prominent reason for preventable demise globally, Marlboro is highly controversial, not short because of its record of confusing scientific proof around the health effects of smoking. It has been the subject of litigation and restrictive ruling from governments.
  • Breaking Other Country’s Smoking Regulations: Health officials in India are not happy with Godfrey Philips parent company Philip Morris’s lobbying tactics that break India’s smoking regulations. Implementation of such tactics by Philip Morris company could lead to some serious legal actions by the governments of foreign countries.
  • Changing Habits: The habits of consumers are continuously changing. They are becoming increasingly more careful about their health after the Covid-19 outbreak and quitting smoking due to its respiratory effects.

This ends our detailed SWOT analysis of Marlboro. Let us conclude our learnings below.

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To Conclude

It is true that Marlboro is a well-reputed brand worldwide with a large number of fanatics. Following the SWOT analysis of Marlboro, we analysed that the company’s key driving factor is its marketing strategy in the present and the past but would have to improve on its focus on other market segments rather than depending on the US.

As competition is increasing between all tobacco companies on a global scale, it is the survival of the fittest. The latter means, as the competition is intense, the only way out is by thriving in this ever-changing online world of digital marketing. Being well-versed and efficient is key to succeeding as a global company in today’s era. If you are interested in grasping a skill or investing in upgrading your skills in digital marketing, feel free to check out IIDE’s 3 Month Advanced Online Digital Marketing Course to know more.

We hope this blog on the SWOT analysis of Marlboro has given you a good insight into the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

If you like to read such insightful and extensive analyses of companies just like the SWOT analysis of Marlboro then you can find more such interesting case studies on our IIDE’s knowledge portal.

Thank you for taking your time out to read this, hope you found the case study on the SWOT analysis of Marlboro informative and insightful. Share your views on it in the comments section below. 

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Aditya Shastri

Lead Trainer & Head of Learning & Development at IIDE

Leads the Learning & Development segment at IIDE. He is a Content Marketing Expert and has trained 6000+ students and working professionals on various topics of Digital Marketing. He has been a guest speaker at prominent colleges in India including IIMs......[Read full bio]


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