Cigars are still a favourite in the festive season and brands are pulling out all stops to offer a variety of flavours.
By Elena Dimama
Cigars continue to play an important role in the tobacco category, despite not matching the sales volumes of cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco (RYO).
According to IRI, the cigar category in Scotland is currently worth £34.8m, with cigarillo sales continuing to grow in the overall cigar sector.
“Cigars are an important part of the tobacco category for convenience retailers because they drive footfall in-store and particularly as a driver of profit in tills, as they typically offer up to three times the margin that cigarettes do,” Nataly Scarpetta, Marketing Manager at Scandinavian Tobacco Group UK (STG UK), says.
“For example, our Moments Blue brand offers up to 18% margin when sold at its RRP.”
The more traditional cigar segments do appear to be in slight decline, due to a combination of factors, such as smokers moving into vaping or pouches, while others cutting down as a result of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
“I think there’s little doubt that the cost-of-living crisis is highlighting the importance of value as a consumer trend at the moment. Many consumers are going to be increasingly price conscious, and this will affect cigars and the wider tobacco category purchases just as much as any other category in-store, so retailers should ensure they are highlighting their value brands to customers to help them save money,” explains Scarpetta.
“This trend for value has been prevalent in the cigar category for some time now, which is evidenced by the success of our Moments Blue brand.”
The power of flavours
“Whilst perhaps not as prevalent as elsewhere in Europe, flavoured cigars are growing steadily in popularity here in the UK and this is worth calling out to retailers,” Scarpetta continues.
“Obviously, menthol cigarillos have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, but it’s not the only flavour of choice.”
Meanwhile, JTI has also expanded its cigarillo portfolio with the launch of the new Sterling Dual Double Capsule Leaf Wrapped, aiming to offer double the flavour with a combination of peppermint and berry mint capsules.
Mark McGuinness, Marketing Director at JTI UK, said at the time of the release: “We know that berry is already a popular flavour within other categories, such as Vape and Heated Tobacco products, so with this innovation we know we can help retailers drive incremental sales in their store.”
The festive season is a good one for retailers looking to trade up in cigars, as sales go up around that time. “It tends to be larger cigars that people will gravitate towards as a bit of a Christmas treat when they are in celebratory mood and typically have more time to enjoy it,” Scarpetta explains.
“Make sure you have brands like our Henri Wintermans Half Corona in stock as it is the UK’s best-selling medium/large cigar, and a real festive favourite. And on that subject, we’ll soon be launching a special limited-edition pack of our Henri Wintermans Half Corona which will hopefully make them even more popular amongst adult smokers in the run-up to Christmas.”
Looking at the category as whole, the upcoming track and trace programme is one of the things that retailers need to be mindful of.
“Speaking of the not-too-distant future, one of the things our reps are talking to retailers about at the moment on their visits is the upcoming legislation changes involving Track and Trace, which means from the 20th of May 2024, all retailers selling cigars and/or pipe tobacco must be registered with the Track and Trace programme,” Scarpetta concludes.