Sesh is a brand that specializes in manufacturing and selling smoking-cessation products, such as nicotine gum in Canada and nicotine pouches in the US. The brand was founded with the goal of finding solutions for nicotine cravings and building a future without cigarettes or vapes.
In 2021, Sesh approached our agency to help with a brand identity and social strategy playbook. This playbook was designed as a strategic tool to define opportunities for Sesh to create meaningful connections with their audience. Having a deep understanding of the brand and how it interacts with consumers on a day-to-day basis would give the Sesh team the power to build strong, long-lasting relationships with their current and new audiences.
I was tasked to work on this project over a 6-week period. During the first 2 weeks, I conducted research on the industry, audience, and competitors using social listening and research tools such as Meltwater and various research papers, surveys, and publications available online. This research helped me to create personas and audience segments while corroborating everything with facts, statistics, and research. After this, I worked on brand positioning, pillars, the manifesto, as well as social content pillars.
Overall, this project was a comprehensive internal document that studied the landscape, competitors, areas for opportunity, as well as segmented audience groups, came up with a social strategy, and multiple creative territories. I hope the brief overview provided gives you a better understanding of my work on the project.
The Early Adopters Delayed Awareness: This younger demographic is in their early 20s. They started vaping as teenagers, and now realize the health risks of their nicotine consumption. They’re looking to quit indefinitely versus replacement. Influenced by Social Adoption: Many admit to starting the habit out of curiosity. Vaping was everywhere. Their peers were doing it. Young people on TV and in mainstream media were doing it. Discrete Fix: Motivations for vaping include calming anxiety, socializing, and consuming nicotine without the residual scent and side effects of cigarettes. Attributes: predominantly male, early 20s, more likely to vape than smoke cigarettes, open about their habit in public and on social media. Approach: Habit Transformation: This is the priority audience for habit transformation, given that they are the segment wanting to desist their consumption, which is predominantly vaping. Knowing that socialization and anxiety reduction are primary motivations for usage, messaging for this audience should position the product as a support tool that aligns with the appeal of discretion (a discrete fix). Socializing with Sesh: On the point of socialization and adopting the habit to feel included, we can tap into the motive of wanting to be on the bleeding edge of a trend, and appeal to the novelty of Sesh products in a social setting, making this audience advocates for a new age of nicotine.
Seasoned Smoke Breakers Long-standing Habits: This audience is more established and settled in their early-to-mid 30s. They have families, jobs, and other responsibilities. Smoking is a form of escapism or respite, as well as a social activity in various settings. On & Off Relationships: They’ve been casual or habitual smokers for over a decade. Most started socially during their teens and early 20s. Many have attempted or successfully quit at least once. Seeking Alternatives to Tobacco: Many have switched to vaping as a perceived healthier alternative to cigarettes and are satisfied with this nicotine replacement. Attributes: mid-30s, skews slightly more male, feelings of defeat during relapse, more acceptance of reduction than full cessation due to long-standing habit. Approach: The Thought of Quitting Terrifies: This is the largest audience segment because it encompasses both moderate and habitual smokers. While this audience has accepted their habit of smoking, there is a constant acknowledgment that they SHOULD quit at some point. However, the idea of doing so is daunting because of the challenges associated with nicotine cravings. Nicotine Supplement: For the more hesitant/”not quite ready” segment of this audience, the opportunity for appealing to these consumers is positioning SESH as a supplementary consumption option for instances where they cannot have a cigarette (i.e. long plane trips, all-day meetings, etc.). By getting them to consider and adopt an alternative intake method, part of the habit changes from inhalation to chewing gum or absorption via pouches.
The Smokeless A Habit of Young & Old: Smokeless tobacco consumers make up a smaller percentage of the target audience. Somewhat divided between young (18-24) and older users (45-54), particularly veterans in the U.S. Nearly entirely male Sensory Stimulus: They enjoy the effects of nicotine in chewing tobacco, but also the flavours available and the oral process of ingesting the product. False Beliefs: Many believe they’ve found a healthier alternative to smoking because it causes less harm to the lungs. They don’t know about the oral health risks associated with chewing tobacco. Attributes: GenZ and Baby Boomer males, largely US veterans or enlisted in the military, tend to be more conservative in their beliefs. Approach: Ritual & Experience: In addition to the nicotine lift, this audience very much enjoys the ritual of packing a lip of chewing tobacco and feeling the sensation of taste in the leaves, absorption and spitting process. One of the less desirable byproducts from some users is a water bottle filled with spit, which many non-users find disgusting. It will be important to emphasize the similarities in experience between Sesh products and smokeless tobacco. Pride in Quitting: While many recount the challenges and difficulties in quitting smokeless tobacco, those who have successfully done so are very happy to offer support and encouragement to others, and take pride in their accomplishments. By offering a supportive reduction and cessation product and community for the Smokeless audience, we can be conducive to more success stories and thereby create advocates out of those who quit with Sesh.
Defining Brand Position:
The Promise: Uncompromised quality and enhanced experience
The Vision: Future harm reduction through cessation products and support
The Mission Statement: Giving a new generation more control over their nicotine usage
Judgment Free Journey Whether consumers are looking to reduce or desist their nicotine consumption altogether, everybody’s journey is different. We respect our customers’ freedom to take control of their habits. We offer tobacco-free products and services to support their goals.
Uncompromised Integrity We believe in treating our customers to the highest quality products to ensure an enhanced experience and satisfaction. We promise to always be transparent about our product materials and comply with regulatory requirements.
Values Driven Our core values are considered at every stage of product development and communication. We pride ourselves on being accountable to our customers by maintaining a degree of social responsibility in the mission of improving public health.
Community of Support One of the most valuable tools in the process of cessation is a support system. In addition to our companion app offering, our ultimate vision is to create a supportive community of brand advocates who can champion others on a similar journey.
Key Value Proposition:
Consumers: Uncompromised quality and control over your nicotine habits
Retailers: Our products are essential in harm reduction for consumers who purchase nicotine products
General Stakeholders: Investing in Sesh is an investment in a healthier future for nicotine consumers
Social Content Pillars:
Brand & Product Communicate key brand messages and product information to introduce Sesh and establish interest. Communicate key value propositions and differentiators (i.e. companion app) that set products apart from competitors.
Education Educate the audience on key consumer benefits of Sesh products and how Sesh is compliant with industry regulations and standards. This would include transparency around ingredient sourcing, product changes or enhancements, and tips on how to reduce consumption.
Community Active community management and proactive engagement to acknowledge community members’ interactions (i.e. replies, mentions), and to leverage quality content as community features on brand feed. By sharing content generated by the community, we are showing that we are listening to our audience.
Partners & Promotions Re-share and leverage content from influencers and strategic partnerships that will reach the target audience. This can include special offers with retailers, contests and giveaways to increase following and referrals, and special seasonal discount offers during peak sales periods.