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Commentary: Cigar Enthusiasts Could Benefit from a Little More Talking

11 Jun 2018

They’re commonly called shelf-talkers. Those little cards or stickers you see so often on store shelves to entice you to buy the highlighted product.

They’re ubiquitous in grocery stores, omnipresent in wine shops, and in many other retail outlets. In cigar stores, though, not so much.

Of course, some cigar manufacturers provide them, and some retailers display them. But I don’t believe they are nearly as common as they should be.

When you’re looking through a humidor hoping to find something you’ve never encountered or a cigar you’ve heard of but haven’t tried, wouldn’t it be helpful to quickly see the basics? By that, I’m referring primarily to the tobaccos used, although we know more would be better.

I find it interesting that tobacco information is regularly included in the descriptions of online and catalog offerings, even if it is sometimes incorrect. Does it make sense that customers have less access to such material when they’re in a store devoted to cigars?

Now, I know some will say you should ask the retailer. And that can work if you are focusing on only one or two cigars, and the staffer you talk to knows the answers. On the other hand, if you’re someone like me who can spend a lot of time looking, considering, and generally doing a Hamlet imitation before choosing a cigar, all that asking isn’t feasible.

More often than not, the alternative is to look up the cigar on a mobile device and try to find what you’re looking for. Personally, I hate spending time doing this, knowing that so many manufacturers’ websites aren’t up to date and information on other sites sometimes conflicts.

I’m aware, too, that some manufacturers don’t want to reveal much of anything to their customers. Cigar fans have been pushing this boulder up the hill for years without, sadly, much success. I wonder whether some of this is a holdover from years past when cigar smokers tended to buy the same brand and size again and again. When that was the case, supplying more information likely seemed superfluous.

Perhaps if shelf-talkers became commonplace in cigar shops, reluctant companies would feel more pressure to go along.

It’s also possible that store owners fear their humidors could end up looking like the shelves at the local dollar store. It’s not for nothing that another name for shelf-talkers is shelf-screamers. And then there are the ones that move. They’re shelf-wobblers.

I think it is quite possible to have shelf-talkers that are discreet and informative. Check out the Sindicato example above. Wouldn’t it be nice if at least that was readily available for every cigar?

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

2 Responses to “Commentary: Cigar Enthusiasts Could Benefit from a Little More Talking”

  1. Frank Gerechter Monday, June 11, 2018 at 12:04 pm #

    You make some very good points. However, while information is a good way to learn about the basics of the cigar, many cigar guys, in my opinion, don’t want to be overwhelmed with too much chatter. Perhaps, the B and M owner can offer a “crib” sheet with information about the products they sell.
    Reading cards in a humidor might turn the room into a library. Most owners want the client to like their purchase and provide service to them, I am not sure they want the client to camp out in the humidor.
    Best regards,

  2. George E. Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 11:32 am #

    Frank – Thanks for taking the time to reply and offer your thoughts. While I suppose there is some possibility that more shelf-talkers would increase the time shoppers spend in the humidor, I guess I don’t see this as a real problem. I don’t think wine shops, where shelf-talkers are de rigueur, have this complaint. And, as you note, owners want customers to be happy with their purchases and providing information for an informed choice seems almost certain to increase the odds of that occurring.