Lighting the Way: Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s CEO Niels Frederiksen, Part 1

Devoted to making great moments happen for cigar lovers, Scandinavian Tobacco Group CEO Niels Frederiksen shares his approach to driving innovation.

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Building Brands
Maintaining STG’s position as a global leader in premium cigars requires both continual innovation and careful brand management—which, in turn, helps ensure that the industry as a whole continues to thrive. “As the leader in handmade cigars, the responsibility rests on us to energize the category,” says Frederiksen, whose extensive background in marketing began with sales and marketing roles at the East Asiatic Company before he joined STG in 1999. Early in his nearly 20-year tenure with the Denmark-based multinational company, he served as market development manager and then senior vice president for House of Prince, Denmark’s only cigarette manufacturer and an independent subsidiary of STG at the time. He was promoted to executive vice president of STG in 2007, then named senior advisor two years later, subsequently returning to the executive vice president role in 2013.

“Driving excitement through innovation is integral because in the absence of innovation, the category runs the risk of losing relevance among consumers,” explains Frederiksen. “As such, we have placed an intensified strategic focus on innovation. We have a library of predicate blends that is unmatched in the handmade cigar category, which allows us to innovate in compliance with FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] regulation. Through our vast library of blends, we are able to continuously surprise retailers and consumers with unique and exciting new cigars, thereby preserving the vitality of the category.”

Macanudo, perhaps the company’s best-known brand, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and continues to evolve through its Inspirado line. CAO introduces new smoking experiences to its consumers through cigars like Brazilia, Colombia and Amazon Basin, while Diesel is a bold new cigar with a full-bodied taste profile that has not been seen in STG’s product portfolio before.

Thanks to a plethora of foundational brands that are in almost every retailer’s humidor, STG is able to meet the needs of a wide range of consumer tastes and budgets. Cohiba creates luxurious smoking occasions for image-conscious consumers. La Gloria Cubana maintains its boutique origins through its commitment to excellence and innovation. Partagas appeals to traditional smokers. Hoyo de Monterrey highlights Honduran craftsmanship and is drawing rave reviews for its La Amistad cigars. Torano connects smokers with its family tradition of making cigars.

This story first appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.

By Stephen A. Ross, senior editor of Tobacco Business Magazine. Photos by Justin Hummerston.