The Rise of ZYN: Redefining Nicotine Consumption

1 minutes reading time
Published 2 Feb 2024
Reviewed by: Kasper Karlsson

ZYN, a brand of tobacco-free nicotine pouches, has gained significant attention and surged in popularity recently. Originating in Sweden and introduced to the U.S. by Swedish Match in 2014, Zyn has become a dominant market leader in the American nicotine pouch market. The pouches are designed to offer a smokeless nicotine experience by being placed under the upper lip, and they come in a variety of flavors and nicotine strengths. Let's explore the meteoric rise of ZYN, which has seen its U.S. shipment volume grow by 119% on an annualized basis over the last six years.

Originating from Swedish Match

Swedish Match is one of the largest companies in the tobacco and nicotine products industry, with a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. The company's origins can be traced to two distinct entities: Svenska Tändsticks AB (STAB), founded by Ivar Kreuger in 1917, which became the world's largest match manufacturer, and AB Svenska Tobaksmonopolet, established by the Swedish government in 1915 to nationalize tobacco production. The merger and evolution of these companies over the decades laid the foundation for what Swedish Match is today​​.

Eager to delve deeper into Swedish business history and learn more about Swedish Match? Discover the detailed story of Ivar Kreuger and Swedish Match.

Swedish Match is a global leader in the production of snus, chewing tobacco, chew bags, matches, and lighters. The company has long focused on smoke-free products and holds a market-leading position in this sector in both the U.S. and Scandinavia. Its commitment to producing high-quality products is evident in its diverse product lineup, which includes well-known brands such as General (snus) and ZYN (nicotine pouches), among others.

In recent years, Swedish Match has been at the forefront of the industry's transition to less harmful nicotine products, with ZYN emerging as the leading brand in this movement. The acquisition by Philip Morris in 2022 for $16 billion underscores Swedish Match's attractive market position, as well as its pivotal role in Philip Morris's conviction of a "smoke-free future."

Swedish Match represented one of the few companies, if not the only one, that offered a nearly pure play in the nicotine pouch market. Thus, following the acquisition, investing directly in this segment has become more challenging.

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What is ZYN?

ZYN pouches are notable for their tobacco-leaf-free composition, utilizing nicotine extracted from tobacco leaves, combined with food-grade ingredients and plant fibers. This design allows users to enjoy nicotine without smoking, spitting, or the use of tobacco leaf. The pouches are available in several flavors and with different levels of nicotine strength, typically 3 mg or 6 mg per pouch in the U.S. market. Their marketing and distribution strategies have targeted adult users seeking alternative nicotine delivery systems that do not involve the traditional tobacco consumption methods.

However, ZYN has not been without controversy and criticism. Concerns have been raised about the potential for nicotine pouches like ZYN to act as gateway products for youth, leading to nicotine addiction and the possible transition to smoking cigarettes. The brand faced particular scrutiny in the UK for its marketing practices on social media, suggesting the use of ZYN where smoking is banned with slogans like "Can't smoke? Can't vape? Can ZYN". Moreover, the health impacts of long-term use of nicotine pouches remain uncertain, with some reports suggesting that regular intake of nicotine adversely affects health, regardless of age.

Despite these concerns, ZYN and similar products have been defended for providing a less harmful alternative for adults who are nicotine dependent, with a particular emphasis on offering an option to those looking to quit smoking tobacco.

ZYN Pouches: Explosive Growth

ZYN's rise in popularity in the U.S., marked by significant sales volume growth in recent years, highlights the shifting landscape of nicotine consumption. As a dominant force often described as a 'category killer,' ZYN has captured an impressive 76% retail market share in the U.S. nicotine pouch segment, measured in dollars for Q3 2023. In the last six years, ZYN's shipments in the U.S. have surged from 1 million to 334 million, corresponding to 119% annualized growth. Few products globally can match this remarkable growth in such a short period of time.

ZYN's Parabolic Growth Visualized:

Discover the explosive growth by Phillip Morris owned ZYN
ZYN has grown its shipments from 1 to 334 million cans in the U.S., achieving a 119% CAGR over 6 years.

Concluding Remarks

ZYN's emergence and expansion demonstrate the broader transformation in nicotine consumption patterns. The brand's success, underscored by its dominant market share and rapid sales growth, reflects the changing preferences of consumers seeking less harmful nicotine delivery methods. However, the journey has not been without its challenges, including regulatory scrutiny and public health concerns regarding the long-term impacts of nicotine pouch use.

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