An Interview With Dr. Reto Cina

President and Chief Executive Officer, Oettinger/Davidoff Group

(continued from page 2)
Q: You said, 'Let's take the risk.' What was the risk?
A: We brought into this joint venture the registered trade name Zino. Whatever happened would have happened to Zino Platinum. Of course, we could have said 'It's Zino Platinum, not Zino,' but it's linked to Zino. And with Zino, we still have a very great name, well known. The second thing, that's obvious to everybody, is we put a lot of money behind it, in an amount which normally is not done in advance. If we weren't successful, then the risk is that a part of this money invested in advance would be lost.
Q: Do you think that your target customer for Zino Platinum might not smoke cigars right now?
A: Hopefully, we will be able to bring a lot of new people into the cigar-smoking segment of the population. But, for sure, we will be able to make it more attractive because it is so different, that young, hip people would go for such cigar packaging or such ads.
Q: Is Scepter off to a better start than Crown?
A: Sure. The higher the mountain you are climbing, the less oxygen you are able to inhale, so the quantities of a cigar you are selling at $39 must be limited.
Q: What does Zino Platinum do to your other Zino cigars?
A: For the time being, we are continuing with the existing Zino line as it is, but we are working on the remaining other  Zino lines to get a more homogeneous picture of the Zino brand. Now there is a huge discrepancy between the traditional Zino line and the Zino Platinum line. We have to see how we can arrange to have both lines in harmony, one beside the other.
Q: Do you have any plans to launch any of the Zino Platinum cigars outside of the U.S.?
A: Yes, sure. We launched it last fall in Germany and Switzerland, and especially in Russia and in duty-free. You know that the duty-free still is for us a very important distribution channel, with almost 30 percent of our turnover going through duty-free.
Q: The Zino Platinum Crown is expensive, and I think it may be record-setting in terms of a price for a regular-production, non-Cuban cigar. Were you at all worried about putting a price on one of your company's cigars that was higher than the price of your Davidoff white label cigars?
A: No, because we were absolutely aware that it will remain a small community who are really able and eager to be ready to pay such a price for such a cigar. So it actually even doesn't enter into competition with the white label, and it was really the aim to have the chance to get the attention of the celebrities, politicians and all these kinds of people, and if you don't come out with something really special, extraordinary, you won't get this attention, especially not for a product like cigars, which is unfortunately not in everyone's favor. So that was the basic strategy, really putting the price to a level that everybody really thinks, ‘Oh that's great, I cannot afford it.' It is the same thing with Mercedes. Once there were only expensive Mercedes, then they launched the E line, then the C line, then the A line. And if you are asked, Which car do you drive, certainly you say, Well, a Mercedes.  And as long as you are not obliged to mention that it's only an A model or a C model, you are within this Mercedes community. And exactly the same will happen with Zino Platinum.
Photos by Bob Schatz/Getty Images
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