Shopping for cigars has become like chasing Pokémon in a public park…exhausting, frustrating and leaving one to question their use of time and resources. Sometimes you have to hear about how cool (or not cool) a special release or limited edition cigar is from friends because you never got to experience it for yourself. I remember a time not too long ago when the expectation of a new release was, “Hey! I’m glad that new stick is out. I’ll try one and if I like it I’ll have another when I return to this establishment.” Now consumers are forced to grab handfuls of a new release in fear that the limited, short-run cigar will be extinct by the end of the business day. Limited, Limitada, Especial , Exclusivo…all words used to convince me to drop off half of my paycheck TODAY and today only.
I recently fell victim myself. Like everyone, I like bright and shiny stuff. I like the trying new cigars in hopes of finding the one that’s going to blow my mind and steal my heart. The ONE I can commit to. I too have heard the pitches…and bought into the hype:
“This is only made once a year by a one-eyed roller with 3 fingers that babysat Fidel Castro.”
“Only 2.3 shops in the country get this cigar and they’re only allotted 17.”
“These are event-only exclusives, and you have to buy 40 of ’em to even try one. Act Now!”
Are we being told that the cigar is rare and hard to come by 1) because it’s actually limited, 2) just to move unwanted product, 3) to create an image of exclusivity, or 4) just to play with our emotions? For me it feels like the 4th one (I’m sensitive), but let’s talk about it.
Some tobacco is hard to get. Only so much can be grown based on the region, climate conditions, natural disasters, etc. But is all “limited” tobacco necessarily good tobacco? Its amazing how when “rare” is slapped on the side of a box it becomes the best thing ever. If there is a long-lost bale of tobacco left for dead in the back of your factory, it may have been overlooked for a reason, right? Maybe its not good enough for regular rotation. If there isn’t enough to give the consumer literally more than one cigar a piece, can yah’ll save us the time, effort and money of releasing it? It shouldn’t be pushed out just for the sake of getting rid of inventory.
If as a manufacturer you produce a blend that you are proud of, one that you think consumer will love, wouldn’t you want them to enjoy that creation for as long as possible and as often as possible? So I question just how much confidence is had in that blend when it’s here one day and never to be thought of and seen again.
Ok, this reason isn’t as bad, but EVERY other month is not a new season. Just give us one Annual Grandparent’s Day blend and be done with it, but every other month a new “Limited Yearly Release”? Come on man! Like our digestive systems, consumers appreciate regularity. We like brands we can count and depend on being around all year when we want another. Merely changing the date on a cigar band is not a sustainable business strategy and not a way to increase brand loyalty.
The process of enjoying a cigar shouldn’t be stressful. I shouldn’t have to think, “I love this blend, but I wonder if I’ll never have it again in this lifetime.” That’s a horrible feeling if we like the blend and a horrible thing to do to consumers…especially if you believe in the blend and think it’s good. Who wants to experience something great only once? No more cigar one-night stands! It’s just plain mean to force consumers to decide between smoke it now and never have another, or hoard it and never taste it.
So let’s try a new approach. Let’s produce cigars that taste rare and are easily attainable as opposed to cigars that are hard to find and taste mediocre. That way we can catch ’em all!
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