Big Box Energy: Adapting Subscription Boxes for Cigars, Part 1


    Doyle: We believe that without the brick-and-mortar backbone, the whole cigar industry as we know it would fail. While we offer another way for consumers to purchase cigars, we find that we do not replace a brick-and-mortar retailer. First off, everyone has a different product line that they offer. We know for certain that the modern consumer likes variety. Secondly, often our members receive a cigar they like [in their subscription box] and seek that cigar out in their local brick-and-mortar retailer. Within Luxury Cigar, we have created a program for brick-and-mortars called the Preferred Retailer Program or PRP. Through this program we offer cigars that are made exclusively for us to a network of brick-and-mortar stores. We created this program to help support brick-and-mortar sales by directing our members to them and to show how important it is to us that these brick-and-
    mortars maintain their success.

    Berezowski: Cigar subscription services have existed for many years, primarily found on the sites of big online retail companies that gradually influence their sales through their aggressive discounting practices. A select group of individuals have focused on competitively transforming this niche into a truly disruptive one that specializes in different areas that provide merit and relevancy to the brands that brick-and-mortars sell. Data and general awareness demonstrate that the “cigar subscription” effect is positively impactful for these brick-and-mortars, as the featured products metamorphose into a higher demand for them, and these services are the ones developing new platforms and strategies to satisfy their consumers’ needs through wholesale supplies and programs that provide them access to these products.

    Desind: Let me say this: Without brick-and-mortar shops, there is no cigar culture. Privada supports brick-and-mortar through our Limited Cigar Association (LCA). Each month, we create, manufacture, package, and then ship rare and exclusive cigars to over 400 shops nationwide and now in Europe too. We release these special cigars every first Friday of the month. Then, we alert our customers to the fact there is a cigar they cannot get anywhere else, not even on our website. It has driven so much traffic to these LCA brick-and-mortar retailers. We are renewing a ton of these shops with so many new faces. No other major online retailer would share their client base with local shops. I know I’m losing a ton of money on the deal, but honestly, without the local shops, this community will fade away. I am probably most proud of this effort. If any shop in the U.S. is interested in joining the LCA, please email

    What type of consumer and manufacturing partner are you going after and targeting with your business?
    Ben Rotem: I wouldn’t say that we are going after any consumers specifically. If you love cigars, family and trying new things, our club is the right fit for you. When working with manufacturing partners, we want to work with someone that views our relationship similarly—as family. We are not simply looking to “do business.” We want to work on projects with likeminded people.

    Berezowski: Our consumer profile is indefinite since we’re trying to reach every single cigar smoker, both new and experienced. We are always looking to work with validated brands in the industry that have established themselves through investment of time, energy and resources. My Cigar Pack’s placement strategy adheres to the needs and wants of these validated brands and manufacturers, and our product offering ranges anywhere from un-banded sub-$5 cigars with the same quality of those limited editions you may find yourself paying $12 for to our $35 flagship five-cigar subscription.

    Imber: We target a few different types of consumers, including people that have smoked cigars for a long time and are searching for some new brands and/or new profiles to try. We also have a large chunk of new cigar smokers as part of our membership. These people love rating and reviewing cigars as they hone in on what their palates want.

    Privada Cigar Club | Cigar Subscription BoxesDesind: The short answer is that Privada targets passionate consumers. The long answer is that we don’t target any one type of person. Privada has grown organically from the beginning. We have seen waves of different demographics at certain times, but really Privada is for everyone. The requirements are respect for the craft and passion for the product. That’s it. Same with the manufacturers. We shine light on the passionate artisans more than anyone ever has. We pair the passion of our people with the passion of the manufacturers, and the marriage is sublime. The result is that we get better products than most companies. When a manufacturer gets hundreds of DMs [direct messages] and emails from Privada members thanking them for the special products, guess what they do? They come back with even better products, and the members perpetuate that love. What is happening at Privada and now Farm Rolled and the LCA [Limited Cigar Association] is something no one has witnessed in really any business except wine and craft beer. I am blessed to be a part of it.

    This story first appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.

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