A few years ago, when Cheyenne Tobacco decided to extend its line of filtered cigars, the company opted to take a novel approach. Rather than research consumer trends and make an educated guess about what would sell, the company went out and asked its customers to weigh in on what flavor they wanted to see next.
That customer-centric approach has been central to its operating philosophy since the company was launched in 2002, as Tobacco Business chronicled in an article about the company’s history, “The Little Cigarette Company That Could,” in our November/December 2016 issue. Recently, we circled back to look more deeply into the company’s filtered cigar products in an interview with Fratarcangelo about Cheyenne Cigars. Excerpts from that conversation follow.
Tobacco Business: Cheyenne launched its first cigar in 2004, a few years after the company was formed. What was the thinking behind that introduction? What differentiated the product in the crowded cigar marketplace?
Fratarcangelo: Cheyenne saw a market need for a quality filtered cigar that was affordable for the adult consumer. While the brand selection then was much different than it is now, Cheyenne emerged as an early leader in the filtered cigar boom. We wouldn’t say that it was always easy, but we had the foresight to know that our brand could help retailers increase their OTP sales. The combination of quality tobacco, expert manufacturing and great taste was what really set us apart.
Where do you source the tobacco for your cigars? Where are they made? What distinguishes your production process from that of your competitors?
Our cigar tobacco is sourced from all over the world to ensure that our high-quality blend is at the peak of perfection each and every time. Our cigars are proudly made in the U.S. at our facility in Grover, North Carolina. It is a small town outside of Charlotte that is home to about 600 residents, and we’re very proud to provide careers with great benefits to the local community in an otherwise economically depressed region of North Carolina.
Some companies are in a holding pattern, taking a wait-and-see approach to product development while FDA regulation unfolds. Yet you introduced a new cigar in February.
How involved are you in advocating for the industry? What advice would you offer to retailers who are looking to have a voice in Washington and/or the state level about regulations that will impact their businesses?
As I mentioned, we’re very involved. It is important for retailers to be informed, even if they don’t have the resources to advocate on their own behalf all the time. There are many industry associations that do a great job of keeping retailers informed through newsletters, seminars, webinars and lobbying opportunities. Even getting in touch with these associations at trade shows is helpful. Secondly, it is important to come together as one community. While each retailer has their own interests and challenges, presenting a united front is helpful to achieve common goals.
You now produce a range of filtered cigars. What’s next for the company? What are your goals for 2017?
We have 12 styles (Tropical and Strawberry make 11 and 12, respectively). We have some exciting new consumer engagement plans on the horizon that will drive traffic to retail stores and we have plans to expand our distribution even further. While our goals change from year to year, our vision has remained a constant: provide profitable solutions to our industry partners and provide quality, affordable products to our adult consumers. Cheyenne was started as a team of four, and we maintain that entrepreneurial spirit to this day. We find this is a competitive advantage when working with our retail partners and will continue to operate this way in the years to come.
– Story by Jennifer Gelfand
This story first appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.