Advertising of E-cigarettes – Are young people being targeted?

Chris Odindo - E cigs 2

Name: Dr Chris Odindo
Position: Senior Lecturer
Faculty: Business And Law

Research Topic:
The influence of advertising appeals: an investigation of e-cigarettes and young consumers in the UK.

About Dr Chris Odindo
Dr Chris Odindo is a driven and motivated individual, with clear passion for his work. He has been working within the faculty of Business and Law at De Montfort University since 2009, and has become a respected member of the De Montfort family, achieving two Vice Chancellor Distinguished Teaching Awards and being the Award’s runner-up twice.

FHEA, BA (Hons), MBA, PGCHE (Distinction)

Area of Research
Overall, Dr. Odindo’s area of research primarily focuses on strategy in the financial services sector. And more specifically, on issues surrounding social and spatial dimensions in the search for sustainable competitive advantages, knowing and knowledge in exploring how those can be used as a competitive tool for firms in the sector. Dr Odindo also has research interests focusing on strategic marketing, and especially on consumers and advertising, which is the focus of this particular study. Dr Odindo is collaborating on this study with Dr Fannie Yeung of the Hull University Business School.

What is the main aim of your research?
“For this study, our main research aim is to investigate the role of advertisements on young consumers’ attitudes towards e-cigarettes. The advertisement of traditional cigarettes has been banned in the UK for decades, so a few months ago when the Advertising Standards Agency allowed companies to advertise e-cigarettes to members of the public, it was something of a historic moment. We can now see an adult ‘vaping’ on television, and walk down our High Streets to find shop windows advertising e-cigarettes whist offering a multitude of different flavors for consumers.

E-cigarettes are a fairly modern concept with a current market value of around 16 billion pounds. They were originally developed in China but have since taken the world by storm, with many people now opting to use them. It is a huge market with significant potential in terms of growth; there is no escaping this fact, and the fact that society is witnessing a gradual acceptance of e-cigarettes. But that has brought with it a number of issues.

On the one hand, e-cigarettes are now a preferred method of consuming nicotine when compared to traditional cigarettes especially as many anti-smoking organisations argue that e-cigarettes are a much better choice in terms of healthier lifestyle considerations and avoiding diseases like cancer. But on the other hand, there are those who argue that nobody can one hundred percent state what the health benefits of smoking e-cigarettes are or even their health implications given that they haven’t been around long enough for sufficient data that tells us one way or another to be collected and analysed. There are also quite strong arguments that e-cigarettes are a potential pathway to smoking traditional cigarettes. In reality, public health policy-makers and regulators are struggling to grasp the phenomenon of e-cigarettes. Our study intends to inform these arguments and debates, and clarify some of the issues.

What’s clear, though, is that advertising largely drives the growing consumption of e-cigarettes, and as I previously stated, it is becoming more and more apparent that the advertising is mainly targeting younger consumers. The questions that now face policy-makers are: how effective is that advertising in changing their attitudes? Does it make younger people want to take up e-cigarettes? And are e-cigarettes now a pathway to future consumption of traditional cigarettes?

This is a timely study given the relativeness newness of this technology, which has meant that very little academic work has been done on the linkages between advertising, e-cigarettes and younger consumers, especially in a UK context.

Next Step for Dr Odindo’s Research
For this particular research, Dr Odindo and Dr Yeung will be collecting data by getting as many individuals as possible to participate in the study. Engaging the community allows them to gain insights and information on the impact of e-cigarettes on society, whether advertising influences young consumers to change their attitudes towards smoking, and the role played by advertisements when it comes to either acceptance (consumption) or non-acceptance (non-consumption) of e-cigarettes within the community.

After the analyses, the researcher’s next step will be to highlight any potential issues for the community, and look to work with colleagues in other faculties, public health officials, and the community as a whole as well as educate young ‘at-risk’ consumers in order to address those issues. This will allow Dr Odindo and his colleague to ensure that their research is truly beneficial to the community, something that ought to always be one of the key objectives of any research.

Also, in September 2015, Dr Odindo along with his research colleague Dr Yeung, will be presenting a pilot of their e-cigarettes study to peers at the British Academy of Management conference.

DMU Oscars 2014

 Dr Chris Odindo has been awarded two Vice Chancellor Distinguished Teaching Awards!

What is your favourite book?
“My reading is eclectic – just mad sometimes! And that makes it hard to pin down one favourite. I am currently reading ‘The meaning of Liff’ by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, which is brilliant and entertaining, having just finished essayist’s Thomas de Quincey’s ‘On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.’ Electronically, I am reading ‘The Critique of Pure Reason’ by Immanuel Kant, my favourite philosopher. I am also delving in and out of ‘Morality and Moral Controversies’ by Steven Scalet and John Arthur.”

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