The Oral Tobacco and Nicotine Pouch Report 2021
Tobacco-free nicotine pouches and Swedish snus have become an integral part of British nicotine culture. Today there are many thousands of users of these products in the UK with different backgrounds, ages, motivations, and taste preferences. In this report, we take a closer look at what types of snus and nicotine pouches we use, how we use them and which trends prevail in the use of snus and nicotine pouches.
The Smokeless Tobacco and Nicotine Pouch Report 2021 is produced by The Northerner, in collaboration with Northerner.com and Haypp.com. The purpose of the report is to provide an easily accessible picture of consumer behaviour and current trends in the UK market for nicotine portions and snus.
About Nicotine Pouches and Swedish Snus
The traditional snus with tobacco has Swedish origins and has been consumed in the UK to a limited extent for a long time, among other things by Swedish expats. However, it is the tobacco-free snus, also known as nicotine pouches or all white, which has increased the most in occurrence lately, a product that, unlike the tobacco snus, can also be bought in physical stores in the UK. Nicotine pouches today make up more than 90% of the total snus and nicotine pouches sales.
In the home country of snus, Sweden, snus is a widespread phenomenon that, among other things, has led to reduced use of cigarettes and to the fact that the prevalence of smoking is lower than in most comparable countries. The use of nicotine pouches in the UK, like in Sweden and Norway, contributes to reduced smoking and can partially replace tobacco use with a less harmful nicotine product.
About the Survey
The Smokeless Tobacco and Nicotine Pouch Report 2021 is based on a consumer survey and sales data from Northerner.com and Haypp.com. The consumer survey was conducted in February 2022 and is based on responses from a random sample of Northerner's and Haypp's customers, a total of 224 responses from oral nicotine users. The sales data consists of purchase statistics from 5550 customers.
When speaking of "users" of oral nicotine in the report, it refers to the customers who state in the survey that they use snus or nicotine pouches –the latter can also be referred to as nicotine portions or "all white". "Regular users" are those who state that they use oral nicotine at least once a week.
The use of snus goes back many years, but the forms of oral nicotine and the purchase of these products are changing. The development right now is characterised by the progress of tobacco-free nicotine pouches, new purchasing behaviours through e-commerce and an increased focus on nicotine pouches as a smoking cessation strategy and less harmful alternative to cigarettes.
Nicotine pouches are a relatively new tobacco-free product that has grown greatly in popularity and use in recent years. In 2021, the nicotine pouches accounted for roughly nine out of ten cans sold by Northerner. Although nicotine pouches use generally increases, online sales fell slightly in 2021. This was largely because of pandemic effects and the fact that the retail stage did much better in 2021 than in 2020, when closures and other restrictions drove online sales.
The most common reason for starting to use nicotine pouches is to stop smoking. Just over half (51%) state this as the single most important reason why they began with nicotine pouches. Among women, the figure is closer to six out of ten (59%). More than half of snus or nicotine pouches users in the UK have quit cigarettes, four in ten are ex-vapers/e-cigarette users, one in fourteen are ex-chewing tobacco users, and one in twenty are ex-heated tobacco users.
Consumers appreciate the nicotine pouches – in addition to the product helping them to quit smoking – among other things, because they feel healthier than the alternatives and represent a discreet form of nicotine use. The lower perceived risk and higher social acceptance also contribute to the progress of nicotine pouches.
Oral nicotine has entered a new era where growth is happening online. E-commerce enables many more consumer options, better transparency and consumer information, convenient deliveries, and an attractive price picture. Those who shop online today make a large percentage of their purchases online, and many plans to increase the percentage even more in the future.
Nordic Spirit is the most popular brand for nicotine pouches, and General is the most popular for tobacco snus. Unlike in the home country of snus, Sweden, where traditional tobacco flavour is most popular, British snus users prefer the mint flavour, which makes up 52% of all snus and nicotine products.
Price is an important issue for many consumers. Six out of ten nicotine pouches or snus users indicate that they would stop using their oral nicotine product if it became more expensive than cigarettes due to tax increases.
Quick Facts – the Snus and Nicotine Pouch Year of 2021
- The use of nicotine pouches is trending, although online sales volumes were down in 2021 compared to 2020, largely due to high comparisons as many did their shopping online during the 2020 shutdowns.
- More than half – 51%– state that they started with oral nicotine (nicotine pouches or snus) to quit smoking. Furthermore, four out of ten nicotine pouches users are former vapers/users of e-cigarettes.
- Almost four out of five users switch between different products. The most common reason is that they are curious and want to test different options, something that is made possible online where the range is wider, and it is easier to find new flavours and varieties that suit the individual. Other reasons for switching are that the favourite variant is perceived as too expensive or not always available, or that you use different products for everyday use and for parties.
- Mint flavour is by far the most popular flavouring. Mint and spearmint together account for six out of ten cans sold. Citrus and fruit flavours are also relatively popular.
- Products with high strength dominate the British snus users’ shopping basket.
- Slim is the most popular format in the UK, followed by Mini. In 2021, Mini took over second place among the pouch formats from Large.
- The largest brand is Nordic Spirit, which accounts for every fifth can and, in 2021, advanced to the top from fourth place. Runner-up Loop also advanced three places. The most popular variant during the year was Nordic Spirit Smooth Mint Slim Strong Nicotine Pouches.
- Consumers associate the nicotine pouches with a significantly lower risk compared to the use of alternative nicotine products, and more than nine out of ten who switch from more harmful products report feeling better after the switch. The user also states that the use of nicotine patches is more socially accepted than the alternatives, which contributes to reduced social stigma.
The UK Snus and Nicotine Pouch Market – a Snapshot
Snus and the rapidly growing tobacco-free nicotine pouches have become an integral part of nicotine culture in the UK. But who are the users, how do they use nicotine pouches and/or snus, and why?
Who is the user of nicotine pouches and snus?
Users of snus and nicotine pouches are found throughout the country, in big cities as well as in sparsely populated areas, from the English Channel in the south over the British heaths and up to the North Sea in the north. Consumers can be found in a wide age range of adulthood. It is largely men who use oral nicotine in the UK: 97 per cent of Northerners' cans were bought by men in 2021, while women accounted for only three per cent. This pattern differs from other snus markets, where the percentage of women is usually between 10 and 15 per cent.
A typical user of nicotine pouches is a man in his 40s who buys eight out of ten cans online, with mint as his favourite flavour and Nordic Spirit as the most common brand. Among women, mint flavours dominate, even more, they use nicotine pouches to an even greater extent (rather than tobacco snus) and generally prefer slightly lower strength products.
How do you use snus?
The average user of snus and nicotine pouches consumes about three cans a week. The percentage of high-frequency users of nicotine pouches and/or snus (three cans a week or more) was 2021 at 50 per cent, which is a clear increase since 2020 when the percentage was 38 per cent among customers on Haypp.com. The proportion is well over half in Northern Ireland (56 per cent), Wales (55 per cent) and Scotland (52 per cent), while in England it seems to be somewhat more restrained and has a proportion of 48 per cent.
Four out of five (80 per cent) state nicotine strength as one of the three most important factors when choosing a product. Almost as many (79 per cent) highlight the taste and seven out of ten (69 per cent) state that the price is an essential factor. With regard to online purchases, you buy an average of 15 cans per purchase, which means that the nicotine pouches/snus cans are enough for about a month. Just over one in five (22 per cent) stick to one and the same product (cans) over time, while the other three quarters shift between two or more products. The most common reason (57 per cent) for changing products regularly is that you simply like to try new varieties and brands. E-commerce has increased this possibility as the range is more extensive, and it is easy to find new varieties that suit the individual's taste preferences or other wishes.
Why do you use nicotine pouches and snus?
By far, the most common reason for starting to use nicotine pouches or snus is that you want to quit smoking. Social reasons – such as being invited by a friend or family member – or pure curiosity also appear as driving forces, but to a much lesser extent if you ask the users themselves. 51 per cent state smoking cessation as the explicit main reason why they started using nicotine pouches or snus. Of those who use nicotine pouches, 62 per cent also state that the product "helps them to give up cigarettes". This means that there is a group that did not primarily start with the nicotine pouches to quit smoking, but where this was still a positive secondary effect.
The percentage of women who succeeded in quitting with the help of nicotine pouches is even higher than among men, 59 per cent of women indicate that they started with oral nicotine to quit smoking and 66 per cent indicate that the nicotine pouches helped them to give up cigarettes. Another quarter of nicotine pouch users (25 per cent) also states that the nicotine pouches were a way for them to quit other tobacco in addition to cigarettes.
Among those who quit smoking in favour of nicotine pouches, 92 per cent responded that they feel better or much better after the switch. Very few – 2% – answer that they feel worse.
I started with nicotine pouches or snus to quit smoking
Nicotine pouches helps me to quit cigarettes:
I started with nicotine pouches as a way to quit other tobacco besides cigarettes:
What kind of snus and nicotine pouches do the Brits use?
The best-selling brand in 2021 was Nordic Spirit, the nicotine pouch that made it all the way from fourth place to pole position during the year. The second place is held by Loop, another tobacco-free option that advanced three places on the brand leader board. The third place is held by Skruf Super White, which also consists of nicotine pouches and which in 2020 was second to Lyft, a brand that in 2021 morphed into the new Velo. Of the brands on Northerner's top 10 list, nine brands were purely tobacco-free.
The 25 most popular pouches at Northerner account for roughly half of sales, and the most popular is Nordic Spirit Smooth Mint Slim Strong Nicotine Pouches. In the second place, we find Loop Mint Mania Extra Strong Spearmint Intense Slim and in third place, Strong Nicotine Pouches Nordic Spirit Berry Citrus Slim Strong.
Mint is by far the most common flavour. Six out of ten oral nicotine cans sold are flavoured with either mint or spearmint. After mint comes citrus with a share of 12 per cent and fruit flavours with a share of 10 per cent. Traditional tobacco flavour and juniper, respectively, which are popular in the Nordic countries, account for only three per cent of snus and nicotine pouch products sold in the UK. In general, the taste is said to be particularly important for the purchase decision in Wales and England and only price and nicotine strength can generally compete as other important factors.
In terms of nicotine strength, the most common choice among British users is a can with the strength Strong, which accounts for nearly four out of ten cans sold. The even stronger Extra strong overshadows the lead and accounts for three out of ten cans, which can also be said for the Normal strength in third place.
The Slim format completely dominates among both men and women, as eight out of ten cans of pouches are made up of this. Mini and Large are also relatively common, while the other formats (Super Slim, Normal and Loose snus) are basically marginal phenomena for British snus and nicotine pouch users.
Best Sold Brand in the UK 2021 – Top 10
|Brand||Rank 2020||Changes||Share of sales 2021|
|3||Skruf Super White||2||-1||10%|
Best Sold Can in the UK 2021 – Top 10
|Product||Rank 2020||Changes||Share of sales 2021|
|1||Nordic Spirit Smooth Mint Slim Strong Nicotine Pouches||24||23||5%|
|2||Loop Mint Mania Extra Strong||5||3||4%|
|3||Nordic Spirit Spearmint Intense Slim Strong Nicotine Pouches||17||14||3%|
|4||Nordic Spirit Berry Citrus Slim Strong Nicotine Pouches||21||17||3%|
|5||Skruf Super White Fresh #4 Slim Extra Strong Nicotine Pouches||2||-3||2%|
|6||Skruf Super White Fresh #3 Slim Strong Nicotine Pouches||13||7||2%|
|7||Nordic Spirit Elderflower Slim Strong Nicotine Pouches||6||-1||2%|
|8||Skruf Super White Fresh #2 Slim Nicotine Pouches||12||4||2%|
|9||Lyft Freeze X-Strong||4||-5||2%|
|10||White Fox Slim Strong Nicotine Pouches||10||-||2%|
Best Sold Flavour in the UK 2021 – Top 9
|Flavour||Rank 2020||Changes||Share of sales 2021|
Best Sold Strength in the UK - Top 6
|Strength||Rank 2020||Changes||Share of sales 2021|
Best Sold Size in the UK - Top 6
|Format||Rank 2020||Changes||Share of sales 2021|
Trends in the British Snus and Nicotine Pouch Market
Nicotine Pouches as an Alternative to Other Nicotine Products
Sales of nicotine pouches are growing strongly in the UK. The nicotine pouches have emerged as a substitute for cigarettes and smoking but also for other nicotine products, such as vape/e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, heated tobacco and snus.
Nicotine pouches are a relatively new tobacco-free product that has grown in popularity in recent years. This can be seen, among other things, in user surveys, for example, 87 per cent of customers at Northerner.com now state that they use nicotine pouches daily, which can be compared with 82% in 2020, according to a similar survey by Haypp.com.
Daily Users of Nicotine Pouches (Based on Customer Data)
In 2021, more than a quarter of a million cans were purchased, which was about 17% less than in 2020. In 2020, a number of hard lockdowns and restrictions were implemented in the country, which greatly boosted e-commerce, which means that online growth in 2021 (compared to 2020) generally slowed down. The nicotine pouches currently account for over nine out of ten Northerner-sold cans. The remaining part consists of snus with tobacco and the nicotine-free range.
The proportion of nicotine pouches of oral nicotine sales is dominant in all parts of the UK but varies somewhat within the country. The proportion is generally slightly higher in Wales, Northern Ireland and England than in Scotland. In the London metropolitan area, relatively more snus is consumed than in the rest of England, and the percentage of nicotine pouches there is 89%. One explanation could be that the majority of the approximately 100,000 Swedes who have settled in Great Britain are in London and its surroundings.
Benefits of Nicotine Pouches
UK users state a number of benefits of nicotine pouches compared to alternative nicotine products, with 62% saying they help them quit smoking. Just as many (62%) highlights as a main advantage that the product feels less harmful to health and almost as many (60%) estimate that the use is a discreet form of nicotine use. Half (49 per cent) highlight that nicotine pouches are tastier than the alternatives. In addition, many appreciate that the product is often cheaper than the alternatives (39%), that it feels fresher (38%) and that it does not discolour the teeth (36%).
Top 3 reasons to use nicotine pouches, according to users themselves:
- Feel healthier than the alternatives (62%)
- Helps me not to smoke (62%)
- Discreet form of nicotine use (60%)
Lower Risk and Higher Social Acceptance of Nicotine Pouches
The risk associated with use is perceived to be significantly lower for nicotine pouches than for alternative forms of nicotine use. The perceived difference in dangerousness is greatest for nicotine pouches vis-à-vis cigarette smoking, but the nicotine pouches' advantage is also large against the use of chewing tobacco, heated tobacco, and vape/e-cigarettes. Regular tobacco snus is perceived to be the second least harmful nicotine product in the comparison.
There is a clear negative relationship between the perceived risk and the social acceptance of the respective nicotine product. The higher the perceived risk, the less perceived social acceptance. Both of these factors – less harmfulness and reduced social stigma for the user – have likely contributed strongly to the progress of nicotine pouches.
From Cigarettes and Other Tobacco to Nicotine Pouches
It is clear that nicotine pouches have reduced the need for cigarette smoking in the UK. For the vast majority of Britts who managed to leave cigarettes behind – 92 per cent of those who switched to nicotine pouches – the shift means increased well-being. Such a conversion also brings savings at the societal level, as sickness absence and the burden of care are reduced, but above all, it provides increased quality of life for the individual.
In addition to many ex-smokers, more than four out of ten (41 per cent) users of nicotine pouches and snus are former vapers, i.e. users of e-cigarettes. In addition, seven per cent of Northerner's customers are former users of chewing tobacco, and five per cent are former users of heated tobacco. For many, the shift has taken place relatively recently, as four out of five (80 per cent) of those who use nicotine pouches have done so for a maximum of five years.
Did you know that...? 80 per cent of those who use nicotine pouches daily have done so for less than five years, indicating a rapid and extensive shift away from smoking and other forms of tobacco.
Senior consumers lifted e-commerce during the pandemic
The social distancing and restrictions during the Corona pandemic have accelerated the digitisation of trade and lifted e-commerce to new heights. The e-commerce of nicotine pouches and snus has also grown rapidly in recent years.
Many people who shop for nicotine products online make a large proportion of their purchases online. The average British consumer buys eight out of ten cans online. Just over half (52 per cent) buy all their nicotine pouches online. This percentage is highest in Wales (64 per cent) and lowest in Northern Ireland (44 per cent). Men are slightly overrepresented in this group, while women shop relatively more through other purchase channels.
Those who have shopped the least online lately, relative to their entire nicotine consumption, are young adults between 18 and 24 years old. This may seem counterintuitive as the young often have a high digital habit. The explanation is likely to be found in the fact that the pandemic of recent years has led older consumers to shop significantly more online than before, as the elderly have been urged to stay at home and avoid social contacts as much as possible.
Despite the fact that many shopped online during the pandemic years, many will increase their purchases online in the future. Significantly more people plan to shop more online (15 per cent) than those who plan to shop less (11%) in the coming year. The transparency of the web, a large selection and convenient deliveries appeal to many of these consumers.
Regulations and Tax Rates Affect Consumption
The substitution between different types of nicotine products is affected, among other things, by regulations and tax rates. Bans on the sale of snus with tobacco in brick-and-mortar shops and perceived high taxes are likely contributing factors to British users of these products feeling that politicians and decision-makers are not listening to them. Six out of ten (61%) give one of the lowest grades, “1” or “2” on a five-point scale in this regard. In addition to this, a third (33%) are neutral ("3"), and 6 per cent seem relatively satisfied.
Six out of ten users of nicotine pouches or snus (61%) state that they would stop using their primary nicotine product if it became more expensive than cigarettes as a result of tax increases. As we have seen, tax increases aimed specifically at oral nicotine would risk leading to poorer health and well-being for those individuals who switch back to, for example, cigarettes instead of using nicotine pouches or snus.
If potential tax increases lead to higher prices for snus and nicotine pouches, where is the threshold for users? At what point is the limit reached? The average self-reported pain threshold value for one can in the UK is £7.1. The figure is slightly lower for former smokers (£6.7). Many consumers would thus cut back sharply or stop their consumption altogether at these levels and in many cases likely take up smoking again.
Northerner is a leading UK online player in smokeless nicotine products and oral snus. At Northerner, nearly 400 types of nicotine pouches and snus are offered. The assortment consists of a selection of both well-known and lesser-known varieties and brands. The nicotine products that are purchased are delivered directly to your door or mailbox.
Snus and nicotine pouches are products for adults...
Our responsibility as an e-commerce store with nicotine pouches, snus and other nicotine products is both great and comprehensive. The age limit for purchasing tobacco and nicotine products is central. Northerner is committed to keeping young people from starting to smoke. We know that nine out of ten adult habitual smokers started smoking in their teens. If we can keep the youth free from tobacco use, the risk of young adults beginning to smoke later in life is minimal. Northerner collaborates with authorities, politicians, and organisations to prevent all tobacco and nicotine products from being made available to minors.