How to save a brand


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 So the recent direction the conversation in the QdO thread got me thinking; how would you go about saving a failing brand? You're HSA not Mark Zuckerberg so we have to work within HSA's abilities.

  Eg Sancho Panza. A shadow of ites former self. How do you give it a boost without killing it?

Personally, I think bring back the molinos on the sly; just start putting them out ala the Fonseca #1.

Now the box, plain cedar with black and white sticker. New bands. Introduce a Robusto, an Edmundo. A lcdh lanceros.

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Take your pic of unloved brands:

El Rey del Mundo, Diplomatico, Juan Lopez, SLR, San Cristobal etc..

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I’d release some kind of halo double-bander special in a jar with strictly limited production. These days, nothing seems to motivate the public more than fear of missing out. Then I would introduce a couple of fashionable new vitolas, refresh the artwork and voila :)

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18 minutes ago, Lotusguy said:

These days, nothing seems to motivate the public more than fear of missing out

Yep, certainly. In these discussions I am always thinking of the RG88. There were so many who said they were excited about them, wanted to get their hands on them (despite the hefty markup), but had never had a regular before (some even had not been familiar with the marca at all).

Now, the honest question is - how many of those buyers then started from there and got into buying the Mareva? Which is an undisputedly good cigar and a great value.

'Special' is good - but then you still need a solid basis. A brand based on just one or two and a half vitolas is doomed to fall into oblivion.

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3 minutes ago, Fuzz said:

How? Ditch the entire line except for the most popular cigar. Put out the fear that it is going to be deleted (continue rolling the second most popular cigar). Six months later, release a special limitada in the form of a previously deleted cigar. One year later, bring that limitada back as a regular production, due to the "overwhelming success" of the limitada program. 5 years later, release the second most popular cigar you were rolling under the "anejado" program.

That sounds familiar...

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48 minutes ago, aphexafx said:

Vegas Robaina - what is the direction and the thinking on this marca, as it is?  It's an empty notion.

- Actually use only Robaina wrapper leaves.  What else makes sense here?  It's not a high turnover brand.  Surely this can be accomplished.

- Ditch the ugly bands.  They're just blah.  No bands.  Show off the Robaina wrapper leaves.  Make it all about the tobacco.  Like a farm roll.  Boom.

- In lieu of bands, put a small card in each box declaring the wrapper leaves and providing a brief history of Don Alejandro, the Robaina family, and their farm.

Pretty easy.  Make it a cigar with something special about it, besides a second band and a high asking price.

VR is screaming out for this. Unbanded, shaggy feet, they could charge up the wazoo for them and people would pay it if they were getting genuine robaina farmies and cutting out the middle flipper man/travelling to Cuba

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VR is screaming out for this. Unbanded, shaggy feet, they could charge up the wazoo for them and people would pay it if they were getting genuine robaina farmies and cutting out the middle flipper man/travelling to Cuba


I seem to remember that the Hoyo De San Juan and Rio Seco were supposed to be “terroir” based, I.e. only tobacco from a very specific area (smaller than Vuelta Abajo). Not sure if I remember that correctly. I would totally go for such a concept. They do the same successfully in single malt now (only barley from a specific farm).
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2 hours ago, CaptainQuintero said:

Introduce a Robusto, an Edmundo.

Sound idea. Popular vitolas to help draw back in some interest from the big markets, especially for SP or Diplomaticos. I would definitely buy a SP hermoso no.4. As long as it's not a montesco, man I dislike that size lol!

LCDH releases could also help.  I think that those release have all been fairly popular, pretty reasonably priced, and for the most part good cigars. Gives the idea of exclusivity or limited quantity but without the actual limits.

I really hate the idea of redesigning bands, boxes, etc.  Worked for QdO I guess.

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45 minutes ago, Lotusguy said:

 


I seem to remember that the Hoyo De San Juan and Rio Seco were supposed to be “terroir” based, I.e. only tobacco from a very specific area (smaller than Vuelta Abajo). Not sure if I remember that correctly. I would totally go for such a concept. They do the same successfully in single malt now (only barley from a specific farm).

 

 I remember something like that floating around about the San Juan too. I would have imagined it to have been pushed more if they have done that like they did with the whole medio tempo/behike thing though. Although that doesn't rule it out, anything could be hidden in plain sight in those Habanos press releases/newsletters!

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3 hours ago, Blakes said:

The Upmann and Monte half coronas have proved popular. Extending those into the brands in question would provide an affordable introduction to those who aren't familiar with the marca.

Yes, adding a Half Coronas would be a good idea. They're very popular in Duty Frees. 

Also, the sizes that QdO unveiled are also quite popular. A Short Robustos and a 54 RG model would sell. Or an Edmundos. Would love to see a Hermosos No. 2.

Could be done with all the languishing brands. SP, Dip, SLR and LFDC could all be turned around. 

A few ERs would also be nice. The SLR Marquez was a strong release, as was the SP Eslavo and Dip Robustos. People chase ERs and it's good to get the brands into people's hands.

 

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Todays CC market is tailored to American and Asian markets. If you can get into the mind set, you can make any cigar/brand popular

Personally I wish HSA would split their offering 80% towards the lowest common denominator, huge RG diamond encrusted stuff, for the masses.  and a mere 20% to celebrate something that focuses on the rich heritage of cuban cigars,  for example a short run of 10 count Siboney Especiales,   do a run of Cifuentes crystales under the Partagas brand.  La Corona jars? LFDC Diademas Julieta No 2

 

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7 hours ago, 99call said:

Todays CC market is tailored to American and Asian markets. If you can get into the mind set, you can make any cigar/brand popular

Personally I wish HSA would split their offering 80% towards the lowest common denominator, huge RG diamond encrusted stuff, for the masses.  and a mere 20% to celebrate something that focuses on the rich heritage of cuban cigars,  for example a short run of 10 count Siboney Especiales,   do a run of Cifuentes crystales under the Partagas brand.  La Corona jars? LFDC Diademas Julieta No 2

 

While I like the idea, there are actual problems with it. Seasons smokers actually understand cigar value. This means they will compare the unknown to what they know and assess the risk of buying one off crappy cigars for too-high a price versed get something they have relied on for years.

Bringing back the nostalgic smoke means understanding that those that are interested in such cigars, appreciate their taste as well as value. This is the market hitch.

You cannot just reintroduce the SdC, charge $700 buck a box for them and expect it to stick. They never had a huge following in the first place. Yes, 'patriots' will buy some, but taking cigar that was lesser sold at $200 is not going to break sales records a $400. 

Like it or not, price point is a market driver to seasoned smokers verses collectors.

Understanding this, producing more tobacco verses less tobacco, inclusive market models and a broad catalogue makes for a long term success. Killing every good cigar ever made to make up for kindergarten planned inventory control and production was just another stupid mistake that harmed the seasoned smoker. It is also why Tabacuba's rightful place is to follow the market and not lead it.

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2 hours ago, PigFish said:

While I like the idea, there are actual problems with it. Seasons smokers actually understand cigar value. This means they will compare the unknown to what they know and assess the risk of buying one off crappy cigars for too-high a price versed get something they have relied on for years.

Bringing back the nostalgic smoke means understanding that those that are interested in such cigars, appreciate their taste as well as value. This is the market hitch.

You cannot just reintroduce the SdC, charge $700 buck a box for them and expect it to stick. They never had a huge following in the first place. Yes, 'patriots' will buy some, but taking cigar that was lesser sold at $200 is not going to break sales records a $400. 

Like it or not, price point is a market driver to seasoned smokers verses collectors.

Understanding this, producing more tobacco verses less tobacco, inclusive market models and a broad catalogue makes for a long term success. Killing every good cigar ever made to make up for kindergarten planned inventory control and production was just another stupid mistake that harmed the seasoned smoker. It is also why Tabacuba's rightful place is to follow the market and not lead it.

I can follow your logic Ray, and I'd say RGPC, PLPC, PLMC etc still represent high value/quality.... thankfully!.  It's just sad that their doesn't appear to be any 'treat yourself' line for people that used to enjoy the SdC and Hoyo Lines etc.  Gladly Rob's Nudies Line, has stepped in just at the right time!! I cant wait. 

Your resolute line on Tabacuba made me think of a GIF, I think it should be your new sign off. 

Best, Stefan

RpUI.gif

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 So the recent direction the conversation in the QdO thread got me thinking; how would you go about saving a failing brand? You're HSA not Mark Zuckerberg so we have to work within HSA's abilities.
  Eg Sancho Panza. A shadow of ites former self. How do you give it a boost without killing it?
Personally, I think bring back the molinos on the sly; just start putting them out ala the Fonseca #1.
Now the box, plain cedar with black and white sticker. New bands. Introduce a Robusto, an Edmundo. A lcdh lanceros.
 --------
Take your pic of unloved brands:
El Rey del Mundo, Diplomatico, Juan Lopez, SLR, San Cristobal etc..



Don’t talk about Juan Lopez like that. Haha. In all seriousness, I don’t want the secret to get out about the JL2. I also don’t want the brand discontinued.
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After Tabacuba decimated the Punch brand, I came to realize Tabacuba aims to maximize revenue, while adding nothing in substantive value. One might make the argument that CC marquees had become bloated and needed to be trimmed. But the way they did it was careless.

Since the purge there have been some limited releases under the Punch marquee, but I'm not biting. Their shtick is taking cigars that cost $4 about 10 years ago, sticking double labels on them, calling them a limited release, anad charging $20 for them. It's a bean counter's dream; 400% markup, accompanied with no apparent decline in demand. But I don't think I would call it a successful long-term strategy. They lost my business for a decade in a boycott. I know I'm not alone.

IMPO, to save a brand they can start by improving quality, maintaining consistent supply, and improving value. Perhaps invest in marketing and aesthetics to make the shelf appeal more enticing, and do some market testing and make vitolas that consumers like, not just blindly shift to larger girth cigars.  

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I love this question.  I love it because at the end of the day, we don't really have to have a conversation about the quality of the stuff in the box.  

Let's presuppose it's basically good.  A lot of the rest of it comes either from "top down" (sales descriptions, value added propositions - stuff the manufacturer tells us) or "bottom up" (hype, desire, exclusivity, FOMO etc).  From a branding point of view, it's always struck me as interesting that Montecristo has such an iconic particular yellow.  It's strong.  It's powerful.  It's unique.  And yet, Diplomatico ALSO uses basically that same shade of yellow.  It's always struck me as an "also ran" choice.  Flip it around, if an RE comes out, what's the marca you're most excited about?  I'd guess it's Diplo (or Quai).  Somehow, the design marginalia (Diplo in its also-ran yellow and Quai in its I-Don't-Care-Brown) has fostered huge cultishness in the brand.  It certainly has for me.  If Habanos were to rejigger the Diplomatico brand in much the way they did the Quai - color shift, perception of high value, flashier band, modern sizes etc - I think they'd have a winner.  And I think it would work well in a way that a La Flor de Cano rebrand might not.

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On 3/6/2019 at 11:24 PM, aphexafx said:

Vegas Robaina - what is the direction and the thinking on this marca, as it is?  It's an empty notion.

- Actually use only Robaina wrapper leaves.  What else makes sense here?  It's not a high turnover brand.  Surely this can be accomplished.

- In lieu of bands, put a small card in each box declaring the wrapper leaves and providing a brief history of Don Alejandro, the Robaina family, and their farm.

Pretty easy.  Make it a cigar with something special about it, besides a second band and a high asking price.

A few reasons why your idea, while being excellent and would have a great success in any country, will not work out in present day Cuba :

VR, like all  farms, must sell their leaves to the state. Tabacuba selects the leaves and they are all mixed with other same quality leaves and sent to the central TC warehouses to be distributed to the factories.

There is nobody who can tell you where VR leaves ( or any other leaves ) end up - in which factories, brands or cigars.

VR only keeps a minimal amount of leaves to roll for own use - but sale of those farmies by VR is not allowed ( all farmers will sell farmies but it is legally verboten).

While Don Alejandro was and remains the face of Cuban tobacco and the brand was launched, he never received much attention from either TC or HSA, except for being paraded at the Festival ( and sent back home in the middle of the night as they would not pay a hotel room for him).
Cuba is an egalitarian/socialist society and the individual, especially the succesful one, is frowned upon.
The exception I guess was naming the Marca after him.

 

On 3/7/2019 at 12:10 AM, CaptainQuintero said:

VR is screaming out for this. Unbanded, shaggy feet, they could charge up the wazoo for them and people would pay it if they were getting genuine robaina farmies and cutting out the middle flipper man/travelling to Cuba

Again, the sale of farm rolled cigars by the farmer is prohibited in Cuba.
He will sell them of course but the threat of fines or confiscation hangs over his head.
 

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