On April 2, 1993 Philip Morris USA launched an elaborate integrated program of consumer and retail promotions of unspecified duration that effectively slashed the retail price of its flagship brand, Marlboro, by 20% in the U.S. market. This program represented a major shift in strategy designed by Philip Morris to reverse the alarming declines in Marlboro's market share, which had occurred in the face of severe price competition from discount brands. Given Marlboro's status as one of the world's premier brands and the changing environment of consumer marketing, the date these actions were announced was immediately labeled "Marlboro Friday" and heralded as a milestone in marketing history. This case describes the state of the cigarette industry in the early 1990s, reviews the history of Philip Morris and Marlboro, and sets forth the key elements of the radical defensive strategy launched on Marlboro Friday. Did Marlboro's actions represent incisive brand strategy and enlightened brand management? What were the long-term implications of Marlboro Friday?
- 1995 HBS
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