Size does matter
This column was originally published in DFNI*
Are the days of giant boxes of cigars fading? It is starting to look that way, if the latest murmurings from the industry – and the latest releases – are anything to go by.
Before you panic, the products themselves are not getting smaller; cigars are still being released in the various shapes and forms we all know and love. But, as with so many things in the travel retail market, the presentation is changing. Large wooden boxes of 20 or 25 cigars are becoming less apparent and in their place are a range of smaller, sleeker – dare we say “more manageable” – boxes of four or five of your favourite Corona and Robusto smokes.
Davidoff’s recently-announced first travel retail exclusive from its Winston Churchill range, the Traveller, is a classic example; it comes in a pack of five Corona cigars, packaged in a smaller, cardboard box, rather than the larger wooden presentation box in the domestic edition.
Agio Cigars Global Travel Retail Manager Gertrude Stormink recently told DFNI how retailers and consumers are moving towards smaller packs, traditionally in the handmade cigars sector. The rationale it seems is a greater scope for variety. As Stormink explains it: “The cigar aficionado would like to try something different all the time.”
But if we step back and take a look at the wider travel retail market, the change is hardly surprising. Shoppers today want products that are easier to take with them on their journey. Hand luggage restrictions and the power of e-commerce mean that a small box of five cigars is more attractive to many shoppers than a large wooden box of 25. Shoppers do not want to carry another large bag if they can avoid it, and the prevalence of online shopping means that buying a large item in duty free can often be avoided.
Furthermore, the growing perception of travel retail as some- where to discover a new product or edition means purchases must, necessarily, be smaller – will shoppers commit to 25 cigars they have not tried before? The lack of in-store sampling means shoppers will hedge their bets, leading to a rise in the popularity of smaller sample packs.
There may be a note of warning to be sounded here. If travel retail shoppers are leaning towards buying smaller packs in search of greater variety, the demand for that variety is going to rise too.
*This article was originally published in DFNI magazine, during my tenure as Tobacco Editor there