Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Cigarette Alternatives with Setti Coscarella

George Grombacher January 6, 2022

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Cigarette Alternatives with Setti Coscarella

LifeBlood: We talked about cigarette alternatives, the current state of smoking, how vaping fits in, why it’s so hard to quit, and a new tobacco and nicotine-free alternative claiming market shares with Setti Coscarella, CEO of TAAT Global Alternatives. 

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You can learn more about Setti at TAATGlobal.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Setti Coscarella

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on over to like blood This is George G and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful city cost Gorilla City how you ready to do this?

Setti Coscarella 0:20
Hi, Sharan George, thanks for having me on

george grombacher 0:22
excited to have you on set. He is the CEO of Tet global alternatives. They are a tobacco and nicotine free cigarette study, tell us a little about your personal life some more about your work and why you do what you do.

Setti Coscarella 0:37
Sure thing, so the company itself Tat is a an alternative to traditional cigarettes. We don’t use tobacco, we don’t use nicotine. So our product is non addictive. And I think that for a lot of smokers, that is a product that many of them would actively be looking for my background. So I’ve worked in a number of different industries, I’ve worked in finance capital markets, was an entrepreneur, I’ve worked in green energy manufacturing. Most recently, I was at Philip Morris, working on their new reduced risk product called I coasts. And that’s when I got introduced the folks that taught and I really thought that they had a very interesting approach to the market. And you know, after some further study, I thought that this might could you know, this could actually be a very interesting journey to go on. So I left little MORRIS I joined here as their CEO, and I think it’s been a fun ride since the start.

george grombacher 1:43
Nice. I can’t even well, and it’s sort of a sort of a weird thing, because you work there can’t even imagine what it must be like to work at Philip Morris, how was that experience?

Unknown Speaker 1:58
It was really awesome. People that work there are tremendous. At the end of the day, I think a lot of people look at the product that a company sells and assume that you know, everybody in there is nefarious in some way. Yeah. Sorry to disappoint. It’s really just a great collection of people that get up every morning and try to do the best they can at their job. It’s a job. Right there, you got a billion and a half consumers that smoke. So you make a product that services about a billion and a half people worldwide. You know, so there’s a ton of interviews even with with our products. I mean, I don’t encourage anybody to smoke. Yeah, I mean, if you don’t smoke, I suggest you don’t start if you do smoke, you should probably quit. Right, and and if you don’t quit, then then you can try tat and there’s a billion and a half people who haven’t quit. So there’s a huge addressable market. And Philip Morris, or British American or Japan, tobacco is no different. We all sort of make products that service that segment of the population, and we do the best we can to satisfy our customers.

george grombacher 3:11
Amen. So a billion and a half people on planet Earth are currently smoking is that traditional cigarettes is that vaping? How has that sort of shaken out over the past several years?

Unknown Speaker 3:24
Well, it’s always predominantly going to be traditional cigarettes. I mean, I think a lot of people think that vaping has sort of taken the world by storm. And it had, but you know, it’s my, in my work at Philip Morris. I mean, I’ve worked with 1000s of smokers to try to understand, you know, what they like about smoking, what they don’t like about smoking and why they might consider switching to new products. And what I found was was really interesting. About 75% of smokers have tried vaping. Yet, if you take a look at the nicotine market, the number of smokers still outweighs the number of vapors 20 to one. So if everybody’s tried smoking, why is everybody or if everybody’s tried vaping Why is everybody still smoking? It kind of tells you what the preferred delivery mechanism is. So when I say the billion and a half people worldwide, the vast majority of those people are going to be traditional cigarette smokers.

george grombacher 4:19
Got it? That’s, that’s, that’s interesting. That’s fascinating, super important research right there. 75% of smokers have tried vaping yet smokers still outweigh vapors. 22 one. Got it. Yeah. And do you have a sense of how many people every year or have tried to stop smoking?

Unknown Speaker 4:41
A lot. I think I had read a study a couple of years ago that said it takes the average smoker 30 some odd attempts to actually quit smoking. So, you know, 30 attempts after surgery. amount of tries, you gotta imagine the perseverance somebody needs to kind of continue. I think our product can give people sort of that better alternative, like we’re not positioning this as a smoking cessation product. But I do think that with tat gives smokers the power to choose. So because it’s not addictive, or it doesn’t have a physiological dependency that’s built when you use it. I think for many smokers, when they switch over to tat, they’ll be able to control their consumption a lot better. And if you want to smoke smoke, if you don’t want to smoke, don’t smoke, because you won’t have the physiological dependency that nicotine brings to a cigarette.

george grombacher 5:47
Nice. So I smoked study from age 16 to 26. And I was a I was a full time serious smoker. None of that. None of that couple cigarettes a day crap for me, I was at least a pack a day or you were a pack plus, weren’t you? Yeah, for sure. And I was up being social, it was a lot more than that. And I don’t know how many times I tried to quit smoking, it probably wasn’t quite 30. But it was a lot. And so I had more than one. Yeah, for sure. So there’s a undeniable, physiological component to it. That that’s it’s it’s obviously highly addictive. And then there’s also the just the habit and the routine. And it’s part of every aspect of life, when you wake up after you eat, or it’s, it’s it’s a break, it’s an opportunity to be social. How do you think about that part of it?

Unknown Speaker 6:45
I tend to agree, I think there’s a lot. I mean, if it were just the nicotine alone, then I think the vaping would work better than it did it does. Right, because it administers nicotine and not in cases significantly higher concentrations of nicotine. So I think nicotine is a component of the whole smoking ritual of the into an important one. And then there’s the other sort of social factors, going out the way that you buy it, the way that you light it to smell, it makes like all these sorts of things, I think form part of a overall ritual of, of smoking, and that’s one of the pieces that we wanted to maintain. Otherwise, the entire experience becomes so foreign that, you know, for a smoker, it becomes difficult to understand why they would use the product in the first place. So when we designed our product, we wanted to make it as we wanted to make it as similar to a cigarette as you possibly could. And and I think that we’ve done a very good job in that. Because in absence of that, like I said, you’re just not going to get a lot of smokers that want to completely change everything about, you know, whether it be the nicotine, whether it be the form factor, it just doesn’t create an experience that I think the majority of them would want to use consistently.

george grombacher 8:11
Yeah, I think that that makes a lot of sense. I, you know, I just I wouldn’t have thinking back, I would not have just all of a sudden started smoking a vape pen, the experience would have been 1,000% different. So I’ve just been honest about the experience of smoking, I loved it. It was awesome. I like the feeling I’d like the the ritual, as you described it. There was something that was cool about it used to be in every movie, people would smoke, and you’re like, that’s the coolest thing in the world, go watch casino or some of those movies, and they just smoke the whole time. So. So there’s certainly a lot more that goes into it. You mentioned that you’re not positioning this as a smoking cessation product. So how how do you? How do you describe the positioning of it?

Unknown Speaker 9:02
We positioned it as an alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. From a smoking cessation standpoint, I always believe that that’s up to the choice of the user. So it’s not like I want to create something I want to give smokers a choice. And I don’t think that with cigarettes, they have that choice, because of the addictive nature of them. I think with a product like tot we can put that power to choose back into the hands of the consumer. And then they can decide if they want to smoke than they can smoke if they don’t want to smoke and they don’t have to smoke. And I think in doing so, because smokers don’t really like to be preached that. Right? Right. You smoke from 16 to 26. You said Yeah. Yeah. How many times did you enjoy hearing somebody tell you you know what, you should really quit?

george grombacher 9:49
Yeah, that was that was always very, very those groundbreaking information every time I heard it.

Unknown Speaker 9:55
Yeah, I was like, Wow, thanks a lot. Right. People are gonna make the decision for them. selves. We don’t, you don’t need to sit there and you know, protect, and then government will give you a product, you can make the decision when you’re ready to make the decision. And I think that when a consumer or a smoker makes a decision for themselves and then takes action, the result is much more longer term, then they’re doing it because they’ve been nagged into it.

george grombacher 10:25
1,000%, that was certainly my experience wasn’t, I wasn’t doing it for any other reason, then I wanted to stop smoking. So

Unknown Speaker 10:33
everybody’s reason and everybody’s timing is different. We just want to make sure that when they want to make that switch, products available to you.

george grombacher 10:43
Yeah, I appreciate that. So how long has has Tet global terms been been on the market?

Unknown Speaker 10:51
So we launched commercially in December of 2020. We initially just launched in Ohio, you know, handful of stores. And then from there, we’ve grown we’re now in well over 20 states, well over 15 or 1600 stores. We’ve landed international distribution deals to the UK, Ireland, Australia, we just recently announced Austria as well. Things are things are materializing a lot faster than I would have thought which I think is great for the company.

george grombacher 11:25
Yeah. And so obviously, the reception has been good, because it didn’t just fall flat when you launched in Ohio.

Unknown Speaker 11:33
Right? I think the response has been very good. You know, we’ve gotten letters from smokers saying, you know, finally, there’s a product that I think I can actually switch to that I enjoy, because what we found even you know, in a lot of work at Philip Morris is the satisfaction of smokers when they switch these alternatives wasn’t terribly high. And that’s what kind of kept them constantly searching. So they moved back to cigarettes, but they wouldn’t really find something else where they could blame. And I think we’re giving them that option now. So the response overall, I think he’s been very positive. You know, we recently made some adjustments to the formulation based on consumer feedback. But I also think is good and healthy for a business to do. I mean, especially when you’re in CPG, I usually tell people, if you’re in this industry, and you want to succeed, just listen to your consumers, and you’ll be fine. So you know, when we initially launched our product, I thought we had a very good product. And I still do, after some feedback, there were certain things that we wanted to fix. So we iterated that formulation. And we were now sort of, let’s call it version two, like that’s the one that’s going out hard into the market. And I think it’s performing extraordinarily well. So again, in the beginning, you always want to go with a product that you think is best test the market understand, you know, what the actual consumers of your product have to say, is there certain tweaks you have to make, make those tweaks, and then off you go. And I think that’s exactly what we’ve been able to do over the last number of months.

george grombacher 13:14
So walk me through the the buyer experience they walk into, like, I used to walk into a gas station to buy cigarettes, I’d buy the pack, you know, pack the cigarettes, or however you do it, yawn wrap it how is how is that that, for lack of a better term, the consumer journey, the customer journey for tat,

Unknown Speaker 13:33
we try to make the consumer journey or the consumer experience as similar to tobacco as possible. So you’re going to buy it in convenience stores. Pricing is going to be less than cigarettes. Packaging is going to look like a cigarette, it’s going to be on the shelf, either next to the cigarettes or we’re going to have it in a counter display unit right next to where you would normally find the five hour energy. So title actually present the line of sight before you get the cigarettes. And that’s really how we want to be able to showcase our product at retail. And we want to put it in the same channel that smokers would otherwise go through to buy cigarettes.

george grombacher 14:13
How has that experience been with with with the traditional cigarette companies that they see you and they say no way we’re gonna try to destroy you or

Unknown Speaker 14:26
I think they’re intrigued. Again, like I remember when I was still a Philip Morris and kind of let some people know when you resign. You gotta let people know. And first question obviously is okay, so what are you going to do now and then you would explain it. And for the vast majority of people in the tobacco industry, the first sort of comment was how are you going to sell this product? It’s not addicted. That’s absurd. What do you mean? I don’t know every other product you buy isn’t addictive. It seems like a nice brush that you need to kind of sell your wares like I mean, I like peanut butter. Right, finished a jar of peanut butter, go buy another jar of peanut butter, peanut butter is not addicted to the smile on knowledge. Most of the other stuff in here is not everything else in the grocery store. So I don’t think it needs to be addictive in order for it to sell. And I think for a lot of people who have that ingrained mindset, you know, they take a look at the product, and they’re probably more intrigued than anything else to see. Okay, is this thing actually going to work? Or are smokers actually going to start gravitating towards this? So I think that’s, you know, a lot of the I think I’m speculating here. But if I was on the other side, that’s probably what I’d be looking for. Yeah, yeah, more of a curiosity at this point. Like, I need to see what this thing, but whether people actually like this thing.

george grombacher 15:45
Alright. Yeah. So what, what does the future hold for, for tat?

Unknown Speaker 15:53
Well, like I said, we’ve been growing sort of our distribution and commercialization in the US. Which we’re, I’d like to be in all of the US states, hopefully, by the end of this coming year. We’re in active discussions with distributors throughout Europe. So I’m hopeful that we can start adding a lot more countries in Europe as well. And really, the ultimate goal for me at Tat is, we want to make sure that every smoker on earth has the ability to buy time, if they so choose. So really becomes an exercise in trying to get this into as many if not all of the points of sale and sell cigarettes around the world.

george grombacher 16:40
Nice, love it. Well study, people are ready for your difference making tip, what do you have for them?

Unknown Speaker 16:50
Well, I think in general, and in life, oftentimes, when you’re going to come up with certain ideas, you’re going to think particular way, and a lot of people might not necessarily see it your way. Think what you need to remember is, if everybody saw it the same way you did, then somebody would have already done it before you. So just because people might tell you that, hey, I don’t know if this is gonna work. Or maybe I don’t think that’s a good idea. If you really believe in it, and you have the conviction and you’re willing to put the one foot in front of the other. I suggest you do it because you’d be surprised where you find yourself after a couple years.

george grombacher 17:22
Well, I think that is great stuff that definitely gets caught. Steady. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And how can they engage with TED Global to alternatives

Unknown Speaker 17:35
so they can find more about tat at top global.com They can also follow us on social at top global. If they want to learn more about the product, they can learn more at Tri tack.com You can also follow us on social at tried 10

george grombacher 17:51
Perfect. Well if you enjoyed this as much as I did or said of your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to ted global.com Go to try tat.com And that’s try t eighty.com. And find them on social at try tat and at tat I’ll list all those in the notes of the show. Thanks, good city.

Unknown Speaker 18:15
Thank you, George.

george grombacher 18:16
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight as we’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Thanks, as always for listening! If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and we’d be grateful if you’d subscribe as well.

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