A cigar manufacturer finally comes out with what he or she believes is one of the best smokes on the planet. (Or why come out with the stick in the first place.) It’s a new brand, an unknown brand. Maybe the bloggers got ahold of one and have already reviewed it. Maybe two, maybe three. Maybe a whole slew of bloggers are wetting their pants from the excitement. And oftimes, that method works like a charm. The cigar does take hold on those criterion alone. Other times, giving a cigar to a blogger is the the death knell of years (I would hope) of planning, testing, investing, and praying. And it flops.
But let’s say we’re on the positive side of the market and it IS a good cigar. It has a unique flavor, the construction is next to perfect, the years of planning, testing, investing and praying begins to create a buzz. The manufacturer can distribute the cigar in a variety of ways to get the brand into eager hands. The easiest way to go about this is to offer it to Cigar International, or Famous, or Thompson, or some other online cigar source to further boost its growing reputation. Maybe the cigar is reviewed by one of the magazines like Cigar Press, Cigar Snob, or (gush) Cigar Aficionado. And the ratings are respectable. So those folks who read those aforementioned reviews revs up the brand and the buzz gets louder – all due to the bloggers, and magazines (who often get the cigars for free) Hey, it appears that the new brand is on its way into the stratosphere of the cigar firmament of popularity.
Problem is, some manufacturers have a dislike to selling their cigars on the internet. So how does a new cigar brand get in the market place if it chooses to use a broker – like me? Now there’s the rub. Time vs. instant reaction. Because even though the brand has had some exposure, the majority of the smokers still haven’t heard of it. I know this for a fact. I walk into a shop, show the new boutique brand, and what’s the line I hear the most? “Never heard of it.” “Never heard of it!” I’m agast! Why, it got a 93 in CA, top billing in Cigar Press, even Cigar Snob wrote that it’s the next best thing to Padron.
It doesn’t matter. The cigar smokers have to try it. They have to put it through the test. They have to smoke it. Now if the manufacturer really knew how the system worked, they’d give us boxes of the new brand to pass out to the regulars. Leave a box at the store so the owner can say to the customer after I’m long gone, “Say, I have a stick you might like.” But no, the manufacturers (not all of ’em) hold back. They ration out the samples. They put restrictions on how many facings the shop owner has to purchase. Hey, I almost worked with a guy who said give out one cigar per store and I guarantee you they will fall in love with my cigar and buy it. That type of thinking is delusional and it just does not work. What works is getting the cigar in as many cigar smoker’s hands as possible so THEY can make up their minds. So they can be the judges. That’s how you sell a cigar. And if the comments are positive, the giving away of multiple samples is worth its weight in gold ( a cliche, I know.)
So listen cigar manufacturer hopefuls, you may think your brand is the second coming of cigars, but the only way to know is to test it, give a little bit – give a lot, and if it holds up to the scrutiny of the guys more business will come your way. That’s a guarantee. But that’s the only way to know for sure. Am I getting through here?