TAAT Global Alternatives [CSE:TAAT] returns to our podcast this week as we welcome new CEO Michael Saxon. It is our first podcast to be recorded in person. Michael was over in Europe last week, hist first trip to the UK and Germany since he took over as CEO in June.
For those not familiar with TAAT Global Alternatives, the Nevada-based company is in the business of making an alternative to cigarette tobacco, what it calls Beyond Tobacco, for smokers aged over 21 who want to give up. The Armchair Trader has received direct feedback from investors in the company who have also used Beyond Tobacco, and they have reported to us that it has helped them in radically cutting down their smoking habit.
Beyond Tobacco is designed to taste and even smell like real tobacco, but it does not contain nicotine and as Michael Saxon pointed out in his presentation to investors and analysts in London, it also does not have many of the other harmful trace elements of tobacco cigarettes.
We caught up with Michael before his meeting with analysts to find out what his new strategic vision is for the company.
Michael is no stranger to the tobacco industry and made his career working with some of the bigger names in tobacco in Europe and Asia. He has been on TAAT’s Advisory Board since 2020 but he has also served in various positions for over 20 years with Altria Group and Philip Morris International (PMI). Most recently, he helped create Trolley Ventures, a Richmond, Virginia, venture capital firm investing in early-stage start-ups.
He was particularly pleased with the growth in sales at the Speedee Mart chain, the anchor account for the Las Vegas region. Although the company used Ohio as its original bridgehead market in the US, he regards Las Vegas, where Beyond Tobacco is made, as a ready market with minimal distribution costs. The company secured a chain-wide placement with Speedee Mart in March, and said last week that sales at the chain are up 200% month over month.
“We’ve made significant changes at TAAT since I became CEO just a couple of months ago,” Saxon explained. “Although we can only share so much about our playbook for competitive reasons, something I’ve been vocal about is the role of ‘focus markets’ in our commercialisation strategy. Selling new products, especially category creators, in the CPG and tobacco categories isn’t as simple as just putting it on the shelf. There needs to be a concentrated effort between sales and marketing to make adult smokers aware that the product exists, create moments that generate trials of the product, and convert that interest into recurring purchases.”
We had the opportunity to cover a number of areas in the podcast, including further plans for the UK and European market, the evolution of Version 3.0 of TAAT’s Beyond Tobacco material, the IP pipeline and also expectations for the future growth of the company now that the pandemic has been largely contained in most parts of the world.