The country that gave us the propeller, the adjustable wrench, the dynamite and the zipper have one or two things to add to the world of flavored snus. Here's the story about a contemporary, un-macho product. And if you ever wondered if there's a Catch, we'd gladly respond: Of course there is!
It was a an eventful year: The title Miss Universe was won by a pretty young lady from the Swedish town of Eskilstuna. The Cold War was still very much a reality with the Swedish Navy hunting submarines along the coasts. A personal computer was typically sold with 128K of internal memory. A guy flying a with a rocket opened the Olympic Games. And of course, Swedish Match launched their innovative brand Catch!
The very first Catch was groundbreaking
Not only did it come with licorice flavor. It was also packaged in smaller portions and two years later the mini portions came along. It should be mentioned that Catch didn't invent the pouch, but the pouch helped to open people's eyes to Catch. The pouch is actually an early 1970s invention. Surveys showed that many customers were put off by the idea of having loose tobacco in their mouths. After a period of serious brainstorming one solution was found: the pouch. The challenge was to make it not too dry and not too wet while releasing the proper amount of flavor and nicotine. It also had to be comfortable. There was also a demand for new flavors and new ways to enjoy snus!
A pretty long wishlist
It was easier said than done. Research showed that the consumers wanted a product that was exciting, fresh, innovative, discreet, unisex and accessible. Catch was the result of these efforts. The Catch Licorice was the first on the scene, but many exciting flavors have come since then!
A brand for the optimistic and spontaneous
Let's just relay what the consumer surveys show: A relatively large share of the Catch users are female. This fact will not shake up the market or raise that many eyebrows. Even though an increasing number of women discover smokeless tobacco as an alternative to smoking, the size of the pouches and the fresh flavors of the Catch portfolio seem to get the thumbs up from women AND men. Catch is unlike many of the other snus brands available, which traditionally have been rather masculine creations. As a retailer, we try to have a constant dialogue with our consumers, and as far as we are concerned, the Catch is a modern brand. Refreshingly contemporary and un-macho. We don't know about the good folks at Swedish Match, but we have found the Catch consumer to be an optimistic and broad minded person, spontaneous and updated about what goes on around her (or him!). Oh, how we wish that we were like that ourselves!
Rigorous control - from plant to pouch
It starts in the soil. Before someone even puts a seed in it, soil samples are taken to a laboratory in Sweden for analysis. Swedish Match experiments with cultivation in different countries to achieve the best possible raw tobacco. If declared a good soil for tobacco, seeds are planted and every step in the development and the cultivation of the plant is carefully monitored. The tobacco is selected on the basis of seed type, location, climate, leaf position on the plant and curing conditions. When cultivation have started, representatives from Swedish Match will visit the plantations regularly to ensure that the crops will meet the requirements. There's a simple purpose for all this care: To ensure that the tobacco that ends up being selected for the various snus blends from Swedish Match contains the lowest levels of undesirable components possible. This quality control continues through the entire chain of production; when the leaves are harvested and air-cured; when transported and later sorted in a gianormous, perfectly climatized storehouse. Then, finally, the tobacco will find its way to the factory.
When hi-tech meets a 200 year-old tradition.
In step one, the tobacco leaves are crushed and ground to fine grains; the size of the particles varies with the brand. The tobacco is then carefully mixed into a blend. A blend could contain anything between 10 and 30 different grades of tobacco depending on the recipe. In step two, the tobacco is mixed with the other main snus ingredients; water and salt. It's then time for it to undergo heat treatment, (pasteurization). After being chilled the tobacco meets the different ingredients - spices, natural oils or even bourbon whiskey - that will give the snus that extra flavor and special character. And then, finally, it's time for packaging. Loose snus goes straight into the can. For portions the correct amount of snus is first wrapped in a little pouch. In the Swedish Match factories, there is a zero tolerance for errors. Everything - which means everything - is completely focused on delivering top quality. Sophisticated instruments measure and control the process along with watchful and well trained eyes. The tradition of manufacturing snus is 200 years old in Sweden, but there's nothing traditional or old about the Swedish Match production plant. If your nose wouldn't detect the pleasant scent of tobacco here and there in the manufacturing facility, you could easily picture that parts for a fighter jet were being produced instead of snus. They even invented their own quality standard, GothiaTek. And that certainly did not happen because they wanted to make life easy for themselves. It's very much the other way around. Yes, those Swedes are a tough bunch.