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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Stockholm Cigar Syndrome

This is a new one…. brought to you by the ever-experimenting minds at Tobacconist University.
We know how easily the mind and emotions can bias our senses, so it should come as no surprise that Everyone Is Biased and Taste Is Subjective.
I have always wondered what percentage of sales reps. actually believe all of the wonderful compliments and hyperbole they feed retail Tobacconists. Every cigar or pipe tobacco is ’smooth’, ‘complex’, ‘rich’, ’sweet’, and/or ‘the best’. Sales reps. have mastered the art of verbal foreplay…. and sometimes it works. I have bought a quite a few dogs in my day, and I’m sure there are still a few to come. But now I’m not so sure that they are making it up…. maybe they actually believe the things they are telling us. Perhaps, it should not surprise us when sales representatives fall in love with their own products. After all, those products provide a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. It would seem natural that the ‘positive aspects’ of even bad products can effect our taste perceptions.
Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological response in abducted people in which they show signs of loyalty and fond emotions to their hostage-taker. Stockholm Cigar Syndrome is when sales reps. fall in love with their own bad products. The same can happen to consumers and Tobacconists who enjoy a cigar or pipe when they smoke it with the maker, and realize later that it sucks. Similarly, Havana obsessed consumers are being held hostage by romance and mythology. I won’t name names…. but this has happened to us all….
Ultimately, in a perfect world, I would contend that we should all keep our opinions to ourselves until we have smoked numerous (a box?) cigars. That way we will have sampled the product dozens of times under different circumstances: this should be enough experience to truly judge a product. Now, if only I could convince my customers that they should buy a box of every cigar they want to try….. that would be good for business…
Jorge Armenteros, CMT

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