Companies often believe that just because they think a cigar is great, they can release it and consumers will automatically buy and smoke it. But developing a good cigar—even a great one—is actually only half the battle.
When it comes to marketing and selling new and old premium cigar products, Terence Reilly has more than a decade of experience to draw upon. As vice president of sales and marketing at Aganorsa Leaf, Reilly uses a “simple is better” approach to engage with retailers and consumers in order to help set his company’s products apart from others while also creating meaning and filling a need. Here are his tips for making your marketing more genuine and ways you can demonstrate its authenticity with your own actions.
Tobacco Business: In your opinion, what are many people working in marketing and sales in the tobacco industry missing or not understanding about their customers?
Terence Reilly: It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of the retailer and the consumer to understand their wants and needs. This requires spending time in the shop listening to retailers and their customers. It’s very hard to appreciate the challenges of making a brand stand out if you aren’t out there directly working with retail and consumer partners.
In terms of marketing, what does it take in order to actually connect with a customer enough to get them to make a purchase?
In premium cigars, a person making a purchase is implicitly defining himself. He or she is saying, “This cigar is a reflection of who I am or what I believe.” Take Lanceros, for example. For some people, they simply won’t smoke a Lancero because of how it looks. You can explain to them all day long how difficult it is to roll and the superior flavor, but it doesn’t matter because the size doesn’t align with the type of person they want to project they are.
My goal, generally speaking, is to search out those whom the cigar most appeals to and get them so excited about it that they recommend it to others. When you have retailers and consumers enthusiastically recommending your cigars to other consumers, you know you’ve done your job.
What goes into launching a successful marketing campaign for a premium cigar product?
When you launch a product, you want a very clear understanding of the ideal type of customer you are aiming at, and this must be considered at every stage of the
process: selecting the blend, designing the box and bands, choosing a name, determining price, where to advertise and promote, etc. There are a lot of great cigars in the humidor. If you design a product that doesn’t communicate a message that clearly conveys the essence of your brand and truly speaks to at least a certain segment of the market, you don’t have much chance surviving long term.