Adopting Age Validation Technology at Retail

Alex McGuire

Senior Manager, Trade Marketing

Altria Client Services

I currently lead AGDC’s channel strategy and a significant part of my role is supporting underage access prevention by evaluating and implementing Age Validation Technology (AVT) incentives with our trade partners. The AVT program is critical because it adds a technology-based line of defense to our underage access prevention strategy at retail stores.

In 2020, the first wave of AVT participants was validated by the field sales force and we gained several key learnings on how to expand AVT even further. For example, we know there are challenges that accompany the transition to new technology. So, for wave two, we have implemented monetary and hardware/tech-support incentives to facilitate adoption and extended the incentives to the balance of PM USA Retail Leader’s not currently on AVT.


By providing hardware and tech-support, we are making age validation technology more accessible to many small chains and mom-and-pop stores.


While we had great success in our first wave, it is vital that we have the right incentive structure to encourage wide-spread retailer participation and achieve our 2021 goals of 120K stores and 70% Philip Morris USA volume on AVT.

While 2021 is about broadscale adoption and implementation, I believe there is even more opportunity for AVT over the course of the next five years. I know AVT plays a crucial role in achieving our underage prevention goal so it's really exciting to be able to work on such an instrumental project.

Since AVT is an initiative that involves Altria’s operating and service companies, I’ve had the opportunity to engage multiple key stakeholders and help define the role they play with advancing AVT. Our team has done work with Government Affairs, having them speak to the success AVT has had on the Hill, as well as participated in industry engagement events, by speaking to the trade at retailer council to review the benefits of participating in AVT. We have also collaborated with Corporate Communications on AVT articles and, of course, worked alongside the Underage Prevention team to ensure everything we are doing is in line with our principles.

All this work ladders directly up to Altria’s responsibility focus areas. I think about AVT linking not only to social source access and underage prevention but also to our harm reduction strategy. AVT will play an important role in preventing underage use of current and future innovative products.

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