November 24 2023  |  Industry News

“A catalyst to increase the average basket size” – Oettinger Davidoff’s Jean-Christophe Hollay on the role of cigars in travel retail

By Hibah Noor

Check out the image for full details of the new Zino Nicaragua Half Corona

Jean Christophe Hollay, Oettinger Davidoff’s Head Partner Markets & Duty Free EMEA & Americas is quick to underline the importance of the cigar category in travel retail.

Speaking with Global Travel Retail Magazine recently, Hollay detailed the strong post-COVID demand for cigars worldwide and Oettinger Davidoff’s ability to meet market needs.

“Cigars have always been the backbone of the duty free industry, with Davidoff a leading player. We know the channel and the channel knows us,” he says.

According to Hollay, traveling consumers want access to luxury goods and they also want to enjoy the shopping experience, with Davidoff part of the offer.

“We like to differentiate consumers; the ones that are buying cigars for themselves and those who are buying gifts. Gifting is an important part of the cigar experience in travel retail. You are dealing with people that are not necessarily knowledgeable in the category; it’s our job to help them.

“We also know that cigar shoppers spend, on average, more than other shoppers because they like to shop across categories. They like to relax; to buy a box of cigars along with cosmetic items as well,” he adds.

It is this cross-category aspect that Davidoff is investigating through a collaboration with a specialized agency dealing with the analytics of the shopper profile. “It's an interesting topic,” says Hollay. “We know that our shoppers spend more money on cigars than they do on whisky or cosmetics. We know that cigars can be a catalyst to increase the average basket size.”

Jean Christophe Hollay, Oettinger Davidoff’s Head Partner Markets & Duty Free EMEA & Americas with GTR Mag's Hibah Noor

Integrating new players into the scene

He notes that the boom in the cigar category has brought with it new players. He highlights the retailers’ need to integrate Davidoff and the brand's role as “the category captain” in balancing short-term interest and consistency.

“There is an opportunity for smaller players to enter the duty free cigar category,” he says. “The retailers really need to manage this category carefully. It's not just about having cigars on the shelf. New players have to be consistent and appealing at the right price level.”

Health-conscious buyers

Hollay also considers the inevitable link between cigars and tobacco. “Historically we are linked into the tobacco category, but we are not,” he says. “We are not commodity tobacco. Cigars are in the luxury goods segment and its about pleasure and enjoyment, not nicotine supply. Cigar aficionados want to enjoy a beautiful moment with a fine cigar."

Regional growth

Considering Davidoff’s growth strategy in travel retail, Hollay notes the company’s strong position in Europe and development plans for the Middle East. “We are already well positioned in some key locations including Dubai and Qatar, but we still see opportunities.” The Americas market is another which Davidoff is determined to expand.

“We remain a family business so we must invest as we grow. We need to be careful; we need to be realistic and very focused and agile in our investments, but in terms of regional development probably the Americas offer big potential for us,” he says.

Product focus for Oettinger Davidoff

New products from Oettinger Davidoff include a Davidoff limited edition to celebrate Chinese New Year and a new addition to the Zino Nicaragua line.

It is the 12th consecutive time that Davidoff has released a limited edition marking the Chinese New Year, completing an entire zodiac cycle which began in 2013 with the Snake. 2024 marks the Year of the Dragon, a zodiac characterized by prowess and charisma.

The Year of the Dragon

Edward Simon, CMO at Oettinger Davidoff says, “To close this entire Chinese zodiac cycle with many highlights for our aficionados, our creative teams around the world have outdone themselves in their respective spheres. We reflected the importance of the Dragon with our largest zodiac cigar thus far: an impressive double corona with an uncut foot. Furthermore, our very limited gran toro cigar, an intriguing pipe tobacco blend, and state-of-the-art accessories and packaging design make this collection one of the most exciting of the entire cycle. I am immensely proud that our series has proven to be so successful and that we can fill our aficionados’ time beautifully with our products.”

The range offers a limited edition double corona cigar composed of eight different tobaccos, a special pipe tobacco blend, a cutter, an ashtray, a Masterpiece Humidor, and a very limited gran toro cigar exclusively available for Davidoff of Geneva since 1911 flagship store customers.

Numbered accessories are a key part of the new Davidoff limited-edition lines

The cigar and accessories are available from November 2023 at select Davidoff appointed merchants and flagship stores around the world. Launch dates and availability may vary depending on country.

The Davidoff Yea of the Dragon Limited Edition 2024 double corona cigar combines tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Mexico and Ecuador. The cigar surprises with an uncut foot, meaning that the first inch of the cigar can be enjoyed without the wrapper.

Davidoff points out that this requires “utmost precision in not only rolling but also blending” to offer a switch in taste and sensation as soon as the wrapper leaf comes in. The foot depicts the Dragon's untamed personality in its taste, visualizing the Dragon spitting fire.

The double corona’s tasting notes are described as earthy, wooden and herbal. The cigars are presented in a ten-piece box, decorated with a varnished dragon scales pattern. The Year of the Dragon icon in the centre holds a pearl, which in Chinese culture symbolizes wisdom, prosperity and fortune.

The Year of the Dragon accessories

The round porcelain Year of the Dragon ashtray is limited to 588 numbered pieces as is the German-made gold-plated Cutter.

The new line’s Pipe Tobacco blends tobaccos from Brazil, Zimbabwe, India, Malawi, China and Cyprus and comes in a numbered, red-lacquered tin, limited to 5,400 worldwide.

The Year of the Dragon Masterpiece Humidor is Davidoff's most exclusive product for this zodiac. It is handmade in France, with eye-catching artwork from Chinese oil painter Zhang Zhaoying and mosaicist Sika Viagbo. The numbered humidor comes with 88 gran toro cigars. Only 25 pieces are available worldwide.

The Zino Nicaragua Half Corona

Oettinger Davidoff introduces a pre-cut long-filler cigar to the existing Zino Nicaragua line-up which includes Short Torpedo, Robusto, Toro and Gordo cigars. The launch underpins the brand’s ‘Live Life from A to Zino’ tagline as the new, pre-cut format can be enjoyed spontaneously, anywhere, anytime.

“The launch of our new pre-cut Half Corona within our Zino Nicaragua line is a logical consequence of changing lifestyles and an increased demand for flexibility and convenience from our aficionados,” Simon says. “Our target consumers value spontaneity in their on-the-go lifestyle. The pre-cut allows them to go about their day with the option of enjoying the cigar whenever and wherever they want, as no cutter is required. With this launch, we continue to expand into new distribution channels, making Zino Nicaragua widely accessible for aficionados and novices.”

The Zino Nicaragua Half Corona cigar is presented in a five-piece tin and is available now at tobacconists, tobacco retailers and convenience stores.

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