Changing the branding and packaging of Parodi Holdings dba Avanti Cigar Company products was not a decision made on a whim; it came after analyzing sales data and identifying weak points in the business. Following its acquisition, Manifatture Sigaro Toscano SpA (MST) had a clear plan: to hit the ground running and take advantage of Avanti’s history in the U.S. market. To get a sense of where the brands really stood, the company launched a consumer data-gathering campaign that ran until June 2016 and gathered feedback from 874 U.S. cigar smokers.
The research and re-evaluation included redefining the values of both brands, which led the company to realize that Avanti’s middle- and upper-class consumers typically purchased their cigars because of their unique taste, the affordable price and the company’s Italian heritage. These qualities brought customers to their brand and created a sense of brand loyalty. Newer customers purchased Avanti products hoping to be provided with what the company defines as the “ultimate smoking experience.” Parodi brand customers, on the other hand, were in search of a more traditional and masculine experience. Across all the brands, the use of Kentucky fire-cured tobacco and the American craftsmanship that went into the products were common strengths that set the products apart from competitors’ brands on the market.
The strategic changes to better position the brands will impact existing and future product releases as well as marketing strategies. Avanti’s focus will be providing adult smokers with long-lasting flavor, while Parodi will experiment with different vitolas and tobaccos to offer smokers a 100 percent natural and intense dark fire-cured smoking experience. The company also had a lot of qualitative data provided by Kantar TNS to consider in the repositioning of its brands. While the old packaging was found to strongly convey tradition, comfort and a classic style, it was also viewed as a bit cartoonish and old-fashioned. If the company wanted to attract new cigar smokers, it would need to innovate and refresh its brands’ appearance.
The Big Reveal
The biggest challenge in coming up with a new look for its brands was finding the right balance between the need to change and the greater need to not disappoint or completely disrupt the connection its loyal customers had to these well-known brands and products.
“This was our biggest fear until we tested the options, both on brand users and then on those users not yet buying our brands,” Simeone explains. “Despite our first gut reaction that the change would not be welcomed by all current users, we knew that the risk of losing our current buyers would be limited, provided that we did a good job in informing them about the change and letting them know that the new look would not impact the products and their prices.”
The winning package designs better communicate the values of the Avanti and Parodi brands and create a new synergy with the quality of the company’s premium cigar products. For the Avanti brand, it was important to convey to consumers that its cigars were available in a variety of flavors and manufactured by a cigar business founded by Italian immigrants. Avanti wanted to communicate the unique and strong flavors of its cigars and that its products are made with some of the finest hand-picked Kentucky fire-cured tobacco available. Parodi’s new branding, on the other hand, had to communicate many of these same things as well as the fact that its cigars come in a variety of different and unique shapes.