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I got started with a robusto sampler from Rob - no SC included - not a slam just saying without tasting the La Fuerza I had no experience. Since then I've ventured beyond the brands in that group. Those choices are driven by feedback and comments by others on this board who seem to have similar taste. I do a little reseach as well and the SC line seemed to be added at the height off the craze in the late 90's - I made an assumption this brand was developed to take advantage of the heightened demand and didn't have the story of the older brands.

For me a 3 or 5 pack would go a long way in exposing this brand to those like me who are interested but not comfortable for whatever reason in a box. Should almost be standard protocol for all brands as each is interested in growing.

Rob I like your short list recommendations - key to me is how to give the buying community an experience with the brand.

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As the owner of a B&M....I can't begin to tell you how how many people will purchase a cigar based in part on the band !

Ditch the El Morro. La Punta in Tubos. It is a cigar perfect for Duty Free. Introduce Principe in 5 cigar tins. They will fly. La Fuerza to be packages along lines of the LCHD Officios/Mercadere

It may sound simple, but I would start by changing the band. Imo the current ones are boring. Add some color, give them some pop. If everything else is on something like that might create interest. T

Thanks to tjohn for bringing this interesting thread up again.

What worries me is they get it so wrong sometimes. They can nail it ie the old school Ramon Allones bands which certainly made product move fast. But they can create such ugly and naff looking clashing bands like Cuaba, SCdlH and Vegas Robaina.

I don't think that its a coincidence that the cigars with the worst presentation and ugliest bands seem to struggle the most: Cuaba, VR, SCdlH.

So as noted my a few others do a relaunch of the brand with a new label and a couple of new vitolas.

There comes a time when you have to commit or cut loose. SCDLH definitely has something unique and positive to offer and I'm glad the marca exists but HSA needs to actually commit to this brand and make some major changes. The ones Rob suggested would be a great start.

Spruce up the band and packaging. They are both very lame.

Matter of taste. I don’t find the band design very felicitous myself. But the funny thing is, should these marcas indeed be completely cut or restructured some day, people will regard exactly those special designs highly and will associate with them the aura of the discontinued and long gone, something then to admire and to desire….Those will become classics.

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I am not that experienced with San Cristobal but I took a flyer on the very under the radar Torreon Jar and boy was I impressed. Fantastic cigars, one of my top 3 cigars for 2015. Smooth, medium bodied full of complex flavors and the aroma when you open the Jar OMG worth it just for that alone. I would advise anyone to pick up a Jar or two as they are a steal at present prices.

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Thanks to tjohn for bringing this interesting thread up again.

Matter of taste. I don’t find the band design very felicitous myself. But the funny thing is, should these marcas indeed be completely cut or restructured some day, people will regard exactly those special designs highly and will associate with them the aura of the discontinued and long gone, something then to admire and to desire….Those will become classics.

Ha, maybe you're right. Discontinue SC for a while and then bring it back and cash in on the nostalgia! It worked with Piedra and is working with La Escepcion.

Anyway, SCDLH's place in history is pretty tenuous at this point and there are clearly not enough people smoking the marca to shed many tears over its potential demise. I don't think the SC design is poor overall but it needs a little sizzle. Are the guys at the bar going to chat up the girl who's a 7 without makeup or a 5 who looks like an 9 with makeup? lol3.gif

I personally could care less about presentation, but as Rob has indicated there are many, many B & M shoppers who simply won't select cigars with unimpressive presentation--particularly a mainly premium-priced marca like SCDLH. You can't blame them when you've got Cohiba and Monte (both with nice new bands) right next to them on the shelf. I agree it's a matter of taste but the public is making it clear they aren't impressed overall with SC for whatever reason. Compared to the other premium marcas the SC bands and boxes are a little weak and it would hardly cost a thing to revamp them. Introducing a new brand to compete with the heavy-hitters is no cakewalk. You've got to work extra hard to make them fly. Having a good quality product and a unique blend is only half the battle.

Same goes for the packaging formats. Try different things. Sales are in the toilet and you have nowhere to go but up. Normally I'd say let the brand die but I think HSA has a good product here and there's no reason with a little creativity they can't get this thing on track. If you can't figure out why one vitola is vastly outselling all the others in a brand whose sales are low to begin with then you get an F in marketing class.

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I am not that experienced with San Cristobal but I took a flyer on the very under the radar Torreon Jar and boy was I impressed. Fantastic cigars, one of my top 3 cigars for 2015. Smooth, medium bodied full of complex flavors and the aroma when you open the Jar OMG worth it just for that alone. I would advise anyone to pick up a Jar or two as they are a steal at present prices.

$28/stick a steal?

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$28/stick a steal?

This is why we have more jars, REs, and "limited releases" than sub-46 RG cigars (not talking about "bargain blends")...

I'd like to know what the actual cost differences are for producing a quality $8-10 cigar, vs a $20 unproven cigar... ignoring the packaging.

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Band could use a bit more jazzing up. Main things are price and lack of vitola choices.

Adjust pricing to reduce approx. 10-15%.

Add at least three more sizes. Badly needs a Corona, a PC and possibly Panetella.

IMHO, pricing and affordability need to be addressed.

Also, as has been suggested, needs to be offered in 10's and 5's.

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Band could use a bit more jazzing up. Main things are price and lack of vitola choices.

Adjust pricing to reduce approx. 10-15%.

Add at least three more sizes. Badly needs a Corona, a PC and possibly Panetella.

IMHO, pricing and affordability need to be addressed.

Also, as has been suggested, needs to be offered in 10's and 5's.

For curiosity's sake, do those features in other marcas encourage you to buy from those marcas?

And for argument's sake, I don't buy the vitola argument. Compare Ramon Allones and San Cristobal. They both have the same (essentially) vitolas, but San Cristobal has one more, the campana. Maybe it does boil down to shiny bands and better box design.

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I'm glad someone revived this thread on a night I polished off a box of 2006 El Principes. As is evident from the commentary, the problem is the smokers, not the cigars. The cigars have nothing going for them except taste and consistency. That's not what sells.

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For curiosity's sake, do those features in other marcas encourage you to buy from those marcas?

And for argument's sake, I don't buy the vitola argument. Compare Ramon Allones and San Cristobal. They both have the same (essentially) vitolas, but San Cristobal has one more, the campana. Maybe it does boil down to shiny bands and better box design.

And Ramon Allones has somewhat the same issue - lack of popular vitolas in the line and affordability. By far, some of the more popular sizes are PC, cremas, petit cetros, belvederes, marevas, panetelas, etc. These are also the more affordable sizes. Personally, I prefer these smaller sizes. Take the Monty 4 - it is the highest selling cigar made, or so the hype says.

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And Ramon Allones has somewhat the same issue - lack of popular vitolas in the line and affordability. By far, some of the more popular sizes are PC, cremas, petit cetros, belvederes, marevas, panetelas, etc. These are also the more affordable sizes. Personally, I prefer these smaller sizes. Take the Monty 4 - it is the highest selling cigar made, or so the hype says.

I definitely don't think SC's major problem is their lineup. Several big marcas have pretty lousy lineups. SC has all it needs. I'd like to see a mareva but that's all I'd say would be helpful in the here and now.

The bottom line is that you've got to get these cigars in people's mouths. And it takes awhile coming back to it sometimes to get some brand loyalty. I think their pricing is simply idiotic. The Principes are priced just fine but what are they thinking with the others? The strategy of creating desirability through a higher price point has obviously failed with SC. Lower the darn prices already. The Fuerza is priced 10-15% higher than both the PSD4 and RASS--the heavy hitters with tremendous history and loyalty. That is just not going to fly.

I think 5/10/15 boxes and tubes/tins/packs would be enormously helpful in expanding exposure. Sometimes people buy a 3 or 5 pack and aren't sold right away, but they'll buy another 3 or 5 pack. After a few of those they realize it's a damn good brand and buy boxes or smaller packs regularly. Let people make a small monetary commitment to try them.

The decision to keep this a niche brand without regional release possibilities astounds me as well. That would be a great way to garner some attention for the brand. They could still do an LE which I hope they do. The brand needs to be in the public eye if they want it to sell and for it to be taken seriously.

Introducing a new Cuban cigar brand is an uphill battle that needs to be fought head-on. You're competing with hundreds of years of other brands' history with famous names and smokers who have smoked the same vitolas for 30+ years. Marketing is key. It has to look like HSA has put a lot of effort into it for a reason--they believe in it. It has to look the part. You have to push it on people. There is just no way someone on the fence is going to walk into a B & M and select a Fuerza over the famous PSD4 right next to it when the price for the D4 is lower and the bands & box are lackluster to the average goober.

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Personally,

I've only revisited the SC brand because I had a consistent great experience with the el principe, mostly as a morning cigar with coffee. Others I didn't want to spend the time and money on revisiting or trying due to a mediocre to bad experience.

Also, personally, I don't consider branding at all when it comes to CCs. In fact, all my usual presumptions as they relate to marketing do not apply when buying CCs.

So the only thing I can come up with is improve the consistency of the product.

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