A content analysis of unique selling propositions of tobacco print ads

Megan Johnson Shen, Smita C. Banerjee, Kathryn Greene, Amanda Carpenter, Jamie S. Ostroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: We describe the unique selling propositions (USPs) (propositions used to convince customers to use a particular brand/product by focusing on the unique benefit) of print tobacco ads. Methods: A qualitative content analysis was conducted of print tobacco ads (N = 171) selected from August 2012 to August 2013 for cigarettes, moist snuff, e-cigarettes, cigars, and snus to determine the content and themes of USPs for tobacco ads. Results: Cigarette ad USP themes focused on portraying the product as attractive; moist snuff ads focused on portraying product as masculine; cigar ads focused on selling a high end product; and new and emerging tobacco products (e-cigarette, snus) focused on directly comparing these products to cigarettes. Conclusions: Whereas traditional tobacco product ads used USPs focused on themes of enjoyment and pleasure (eg, attractive for cigarettes, high end product for cigars), new and emerging tobacco product ads offered the unique benefit (USP) of their product being a better and safer alternative to traditional tobacco products. Snuff's USPs focused nearly exclusively on the masculinity of their products. Our results provide targets for potential tobacco regulatory actions that could be implemented to reduce demand for tobacco products by reducing their perceived unique benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Cigarettes
  • Content analysis
  • Non-cigarette consumer products
  • Tobacco ads
  • Unique selling propositions


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