Cigar success is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

Alastair Williams

Making a success of the only tobacco category in growth starts with stocking the top three brands that account for the vast majority of sales, says category champion Scandinavian Tobacco Group UK.

As the only tobacco category currently in growth, cigars represent a beacon of opportunity in wider category that’s in terminal decline. IRI data shows that the total UK cigar market is actually in growth by value, up 0.9%, a remarkable statistic – and one that should remind retailers that there is still sales growth out there for those prepared to treat the category with the respect it clearly merits.

But how should retailers go about making the most of this opportunity? For Scandinavian Tobacco Group UK (STG) Country Director Alastair Williams, it’s simple: “The first step to optimising cigar sales is by stocking three key brands: Signature, Moments Blue and Henri Wintermans. By simply stocking these three core brands retailers should be able to perfectly meet the needs of each and every one of their cigar customers.”

Signature (formerly Café Crème) is the jewel in STG’s crown, the number one cigar brand and easily the best-selling miniature. It’s nothing short of a must-stock for all retailers in Scotland, as Williams explains: “Signature is by far the biggest player in the category and Scotland’s best-selling cigar. In fact, when it comes to cigar sales in Scottish independents and symbols, Signature SKUs have three of the top four places.”

The Café Crème name change gave Signature brand consistency worldwide, but rebranding the UK’s biggest-selling cigar family caused some sleepless nights for Williamson. However, he was quickly reassured by the sales figures which clearly show there has been no noticeable impact.

With the miniature cigars segment growing at 4.6% and the medium/larger segment growing at 2.7%, there’s little doubt that cigars still represent a huge profit opportunity and Signature, along with Moments and Henri Wintermans, make the core of a strong range that will meet most cigar shoppers’ needs.

Miniature cigars represent a huge 74% of total cigar sales and, while Signature is perfect for adult smokers looking for a premium proposition, an increasing number of customers are looking for good quality, value for money propositions. This, says Williams, is where STG’s Moments brand comes into its own. Moments is in fact the UK’s fastest-growing cigar, so stocking it alongside Signature means you’ve got the vital miniature cigars segment covered.

As for larger cigars, STG advises retailers to stock something for the many shoppers who still enjoy a more substantial smoke, with the obvious choice being the Henri Wintermans Half Corona, which holds the position as the UK’s favourite Medium to Large cigar.

With that basic core range in place, all that retailers need to do is talk to their cigar customers and identify the needs of their specific shopper base. Williams advises: “Our research has showed that shoppers want retailers to help them choose what products are right for them, especially if their usual brand isn’t in stock. If you take the time to forge a greater understanding of the products on offer and pass this knowledge onto your staff so they can effectively engage with shoppers, you will reap the sales rewards as a result. Shape your range with your specific customers in mind.”

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