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Friday, August 29, 2008

Wrapper School: Cigar Geometry

Geometry is helpful to study the composition of a cigar since it represents the Wrapper, Binder, and Filler proportions. As consumers, we are always interested in the Diameter (Ring Gauge – rg) of a cigar, but we rarely think of the Circumference (Wrapper + Binder) and Area (Filler) implications.
Imagine looking directly at the Foot of a cigar: what you see is a circle. The Diameter of that circle is the Ring Gauge (rg) – where the rg is measured in 64ths of an inch. If you look at a 32rg cigar, its Diameter is 1/2 inch. The Circumference (distance around) of that circle is 1.57 inches: this means that it takes 1.57 inches of both Wrapper and Binder to cover the cigar*. A 32rg cigar has an Area of .1963 inches: this means that the Foot (Filler) Area is .1963.

When you double the rg (Ring Gauge) of the cigar, extraordinary changes occur. A 64rg cigar has a 1 inch Diameter and a Circumference of 3.14 inches – the Diameter and Circumference have simply doubled. More importantly, the Area (Foot – Filler) of the cigar has increased from .1963 (32rg) to .7854 (64rg) – a four fold increase. This means that when the rg doubled, the Filler quadrupled!

So, doubling the rg quadruples the Filler. From this you could infer that a thinner cigar will express more of the Wrapper and Binder flavor; making the Filler flavors less pronounced. Alas, this is too simple. Cigar makers and blenders must adjust the Filler components (ligero, seco, volado) to make the cigar burn properly. If the cigar maker wants to pronounce the Wrapper more on a thinner cigar, then they will adjust the ligero and other components accordingly. If they want to recreate the same flavor profile as the thicker cigar, then they will adjust the Filler blend to that end. Ultimately, the cigar will reflect what the maker and blender are trying to achieve, and that all depends on their vision.

* It will take slightly less than 1.57 inches of binder since the wrapper covers the binder. In addition, this formula does not account for wrapper overlap which occurs naturally during cigar rolling. Nonetheless, the math is accurate enough for our purposes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tobacconist Philanthropy: Cigar Box Charity

The nature of our business presents a unique charitable opportunity; that is, Cigar Boxes. People love cigar boxes! And Tobacconists usually have plenty of them. Unlike a restaurant which has no use for left over food, empty cigar boxes actually have value*. In my stores we sell the boxes for $3 and give the money to a no-kill animal shelter – Last Chance Ranch**. In addition, we give away boxes to children and teachers for projects and hobbies. But, hands down, my favorite Cigar Box charity is the animals. Just last week the shelter received two dogs from a woman who had lost her job, was living in her car, and could no longer take care of her pets. I can’t imagine how difficult her life must be, but I know she found comfort in knowing her pets would be well taken care of.
So, Tobacconist University wants to know….
Let us know as we are developing Service College content on Tobacconist Philanthropy – we estimate that Tobacconists give more to military service men and women than any other retailer group – not to mention schools, churches, arts organizations, etc… And, every Tobacconist gets a steady stream of people requesting product and money contributions… so there is a big story to tell about Tobacconists and charity.
**The Last Chance Ranch saves horses, pigs, chickens, geese, goats, mules, donkeys, sheep, dogs, and cats; actually, they will save any animal, rehabilitate it, and find it a happy home.
* Cigar Box Value: cigar boxes are also useful as gift packaging and for custom samplers.

Tobacconist Philanthropy

Merriam-Webster defines Philanthropy as
“: goodwill to fellowmen; especially : active effort to promote human welfare”
Clearly, any good Tobacconist is by definition a Philanthropist. But, Tobacconists actually contribute to local, national, and international charities in innumerable ways. The Tobacconist Philanthropy content in Service College is meant to highlight the ways in which Tobacconists selflessly give back: whether by donating cigars to our troops or giving to charity auctions, hurricane relief, school fundraisers, and more. Tobacconists are both local and global merchants who give professionally and personally, every day.

If you are a Tobacconist Philanthropist who goes above and beyond, let us know how – we will use your knowledge to teach other Tobacconists.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Art & Cigars

One of the most important things we teach consumers, Tobacconists, and society is the amazing and unparalleled nature of the premium cigar. Great works of art, crystal, furniture, and architecture are created in less time than a great cigar; and they last lifetimes! …while the destiny of a cigar, through combustion, is to return to dust. In fact, hundreds of people and thousands of years of human knowledge and experience go into every premium cigar!

Indubitably, great cigars are works of art. Great cigar makers are artists. And retail Tobacconists are the curators of these precious miracles. At TU we consider ourselves to be in the art preservation business: preserving luxury tobacco for generations to come.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cigars = Vacation

We know that our sense of smell is most closely linked to memory and emotion. And that our sense of smell has the greatest impact on our enjoyment of luxury tobacco – try smoking with stuffed sinuses to prove it. Pleasant aromas are relaxing. In fact, pleasant aromas have the power to transport us to a better ‘place’, a better feeling. Whether we are talking about the smell of grandma’s cookies, the ocean, or a great cigar, pleasant aromas force us to take notice and enjoy the moment. Those who enjoy luxury tobacco know that aroma transcends our daily responsibilities, stresses, uncertainties, and challenges.

The aroma of luxury tobacco forces us to settle down and appreciate the moment; the little things. Great tobacco is a compelling delicacy which helps us appreciate our time. What could be more important than savoring your time? Great cigars are like a mini-vacation! Use them as intended and you will enhance your quality of life.

* Tobacconist Anecdote: Lately, I have been seeing many more of our retail customers stopping to have a cigar in the shop. Customers who would normally walk out after their purchase look at the couch like a starving man looks at a steak. Once they realize the couches are there for them, they walk over and plop themselves down, immediately letting out a deep exhale. At first they have a glassy look in their eyes, then they remember they have a cigar in their hand and they start to look at it, touch it, and finally light it. After just a few puffs their demeanor begins to change. They watch the smoke waft delicately into the air and their gaze begins to relax. Within a few minutes they start letting go… their body and mind releasing tension. Eventually, our customers leave the shops happier, brighter, and lighter than when they entered. It is an extraordinary transformation. Every Tobacconist has seen this happen, and I think this is happening a lot more lately. But this is just proof that Tough Times = Better Business. People need great Tobacconists more now, than ever…. so get to work.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Customers: Car Dealers & Motorcyclists

Customers are defined by their Values.
Tobacconists are defined by the Value they Add!
Some of our best customers are car salesman and dealership owners. I can count hundreds of thousands of dollars in income from car salesmen and dealers since I have been a Tobacconist – their business has more than paid for every car I have owned over the years. These are truly special customers, for many reasons.
Firstly, dealership owners tend to be the embodiment of the products they sell. They are freedom loving, individualistic, and quintessentially American businessmen. This is also a pretty good description of the average cigar smoker too!

I have had several dealership owners who regularly purchased large quantities of cigars for themselves and their staffs.

Many owners and salesmen shop with us when they want to thank a [shared] customer who just purchased a car. – Maybe we should encourage our customers to tell their car salesmen that they love cigars from ‘put your store name here’.

Another benefit of the car salesman/dealer customer is the great deals. Both my customers and I have benefited greatly from these special customers – as always, cigar smokers share a special bond.

Perhaps the most interesting benefit of the car dealer customer is the event potential. I once had a formal cocktail party/cigar tasting event in the service garage of the Land Rover dealership. I must qualify that the garage was beautiful, spotless, and oddly elegant when filled with luxurious automobiles. In addition to this type of event, there are many other opportunities for marketing, promoting, and co-branding with car dealerships and clubs. Some ideas include:

  • share mailing lists
  • car club meetings at your shop
  • outdoor booth at dealer and club events
  • showcase luxury automobiles at your shop
  • offer gift certificates or coupons to a dealership’s customers
  • give a free cigar to new car buyers, like when a baby is born
  • negotiate special offers for your customers from a dealership
  • advertise in a dealership or car club brochure, internet site, or newsletter

So the lesson is…. get to know the car dealers and salesmen in your area. Find out if you can work together to better service your customers. And treat them well, as they will you.

Also, just substitute the word "CAR" with Motorcycle/Motorcyclist in this blog and you have another group to market to and with!