The New Rules of Premium Cigar Marketing

The cigar industry has changed since the '90s Cigar Boom but the marketing efforts of many cigar companies has not. Here are six new rules to successfully marketing premium cigars today.

Erica Arroyo
Photo by Kadyr Leger

Rule 4: Use Social Media to Show Prospective Customers Your Business
If you’re using social media just to post pictures of what you’re smoking and not giving them a look at your actual business, you’re missing the biggest opportunity that comes with social media. Consumers are looking toward social media for a look into your business, not just what you’re selling. Turn the camera around and show them the people, the office space and behind the scenes shots of your business that they would only get to see in person. According to Arroyo, tobacconists and other tobacco retailers are especially missing out on this opportunity.

“Some of these lounges are beautiful. Show me what you guys are all about! All of these shops [on Instagram] are showing me what they’re smoking. Sometimes what they’re smoking–20 to 30 percent of what they’re posting online–isn’t even available in their lounge. You know what I want to see? I want to see your humidor. I want to see your parking lot. I want to see the outside of your building. I want to see your sign, your chairs, your ashtrays, the front desk, who’s working today. That’s what I look for.

“If you show me what you guys are all about then just by me seeing how comfortable it is in there, what the people are all about, and how many cigars you have in there–I’m more likely to spend more time and money in your lounge and store.”

Rule 5: Your Marketing Is Not About You, It’s About Them
Too many companies miss the main target of its marketing efforts–its customers. If your marketing isn’t reflecting all of your customers, their diverse backgrounds and preferences, and how your products fit into their lifestyles, you should rethink your efforts. Your marketing should never be about you the products but about the customers. The best place to practice this rule is in your social media efforts, something Arroyo practices each day with Cornelius & Anthony’s social media marketing.

“It’s so simple. It’s about our supporters,” she explains. “What I want is anyone who’s smoking our cigars is to be recognized and to show our appreciation to them because I appreciate every single person. It’s about the content, too. You have to make sure that your pictures are clear, you have to make sure that the captions fit with the content. I’ll get text messages all day from people that I’ve met at IPCPR or while out and about and they will send me photos of them smoking Cornelius & Anthony. I make sure they’re recognized and I thank them. That’s what needs to be shown in social media.”

Rule 6: Customer Service Starts Online
As Internet marketing the digital age takes over, so does the importance of viewing your website and social media as your company’s first line of customer service. Not having someone in place to respond to emails submitted to your company or to respond in a timely manner to direct messages (DMs) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram could be a costly mistake and bring more harm than good to your brands. Arroyo has made an effort to respond to any online inquiries to Cornelius & Anthony within 24 hours of receipt. It’s important to respond to comments on Also, it’s important to make sure the person behind your social media or who receives emails from your website is the best person you have on staff to interact with your customers.

“That person behind the social media account–if they’re an asshole, rude, or they’re not responsive, it could ruin the entire view of the company. You have to put key people in certain places. Somebody who is really good with people, put them in the social media if you want to make sure your company is going to be successful. That’s what’s missing from 80 percent of the accounts right now.”

Erica Arroyo is a marketing director setting out to provide a fresh vision and contribute to the advancement of women in the cigar industry. You can follow her on Instagram @errican and visit her website for more information.

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– Story by Antoine Reid, an editor and digital content director for Tobacco Business Magazine. You can follow him on Instagram @editor.reid