With a Davidoff Year Of The Rat in hand, Cigar Journal’s Samuel Spurr discussed the Chinese cigar market with Beat Hauenstein, Chief Executive Officer, Oettinger Davidoff AG, during the International Cigar Expo (ICE) in Shenzhen, China.
Hauenstein acknowledges that mainland Chinese are travelling on a huge scale and increasingly learning about global brands. Davidoff is active in mainland China and wider Asia-Pacific region and currently has five outlets in China, with the most recent Davidoff lounge opening in Shenzhen in March this year.
Samuel Spurr: How do you see the Chinese market?
Beat Hauenstein: We see huge potential in the Chinese market, given it is now the number two premium cigar market worldwide. We have been seeing more and younger consumers joining us for tasting events and brand activities in the past three years in China. We believe the market is still in an infant stage, which requires a variety of educational activities to be implemented in the market. ICE 2019 is definitely one of the best opportunities for both the cigar brands and local consumers to know more about cigar culture.
SS: What opportunities exist in China?
BH: We have been working very closely with our Chinese partners, including Central STMA and domestic tobacco companies over the past 3 years. We found a lot of potential opportunities and possibilities for us for the future. This could be summarized in three areas.
- Cigars: We are continuing to delight with new product innovations that are more tailored to the Chinese cigar lover
- Accessories: We are considering introducing some of our accessory production into China
- Cigar Culture and Education: We are also open to work with the official organizations to promote, train, and educate cigar knowledge to customers and consumers. One example is the Chinese version of the “Davidoff Academy”, which is a global online training program for our retail partners, which we will launch in December 2019.
SS: What challenges does Davidoff face in China?
BH: Being a tobacco company, the legal environment for marketing brands and promoting products remains the key challenge for us. However, an exhibition like ICE does provide a great platform for the brands and customers to connect and know each other better.
SS: How do you gauge the ICE so far?
BH: I am very impressed by the ICE, in terms of the number of participating brands, quality of the crowd, level of government officials, as well as content. I believe for now, China has its own IPCPR. ICE is a great opportunity for imported cigar brands like Davidoff to promote and introduce their brands and products to the domestic customers. For this, we have brought our full product lines, as well as our limited editions to the exhibition.
SS: What are some of the best-selling Davidoff cigars in the region?
As you know, Asia is very dynamic in terms of palates. As a result, our best sellers range from mild and smooth cigars, such as Davidoff 2000 and Davidoff Grand Cru, to richer and stronger cigars, such as Davidoff Nicaragua and the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour. In addition, our most prestigious cigars, Oro Blanco and Royal Release are also very popular, as gifting is very common in the region.