Brand building + Go-to-Market strategy for a new next generation product 


PULZE of Imperial Tobacco Brand (ITB)



ITB has developed a new next-generation heated tobacco product, branded PULZE, that uses significantly less tar than normal cigarettes and do not emit smoke like a regular cigarette.  They wanted the agency to develop a Brand strategy and Go-to-Market strategy to launch in Japan.

At the time, the Japanese tobacco market and e-cigarette category have two very established brands hence difficult to stand out. Additionally,  the product launch was required to meet an aggressive business target.   



Research and identifying the customer, market and company 

Working as the Strategy Lead for this brief, my approach was to first identify the potential Japanese customers and their smoking routine and empathise what were their strongest frustration and unmet needs.  I identified four potential target audiences and developed the questionnaire for the focus group studies to be held in Japan. Next, I facilitated several ideation sessions where we developed three brand concept for PULZE and identify the brand attributes of PULZE.


The team flew into Japan for ethnography research where I honed in reasons for smoking and their concerns for smoking in the context of where and when they smoke. We used the four focus groups to confirmed the brand concepts which became the brand purpose. 


The biggest insight uncovered was that PULZE would be normally used as a secondary product to fit into personal life moments and smoking circumstances.  The product was to be marketed as a lifestyle brand which set the direction for the Go-To-Market strategy.  


Go-to-Market Strategy Planning

One of the challenges in creating a lifestyle brand was developing a community.  There was a focused on developing influencer programmes, brand experiential pop-ups and social media campaigns around the Fukuoka passion points to generate awareness of PULZE.  


To further differentiate PULZE from the other top e-cig brands, a personalised customer care value proposition was designed and developed which became "PULZE Care", a service care and loyalty proposition as well as to encourage repeat subscription of the PULZE ID (cigarettes).  A marketing comms ecosystem was mapped out for the Japanese ITB team to support implementation. 

To ensure the marketing budget had an adequate runway, I also developed the market-sizing and the business modelling of the GTM plan to understand how many activations and how many consumers trials required to achieve the conversion target.  This has helped the implementation teams to set realistic sales expectation for the planned PULZE launch.  



The PULZE e-cigarette was launched on time as planned.  In the initial launches, the lifestyle brand strategy was very well received by the target audience.  A lot of initial awareness about the brand were activated through influencer collaborations at the PULZE pop-up store and augmented by social media.  



Persona, brand archetypes, customer journey mapping, value proposition and ecosystem mapping, market sizing and business modelling


Redesigning the event to amplify the brand and change audience behaviours.