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A Conversation with José Blanco

The gregarious sales director for La Aurora speaks about the cigar industry.
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Vegas, Mar/Apr 2006

(continued from page 4)

A: We might.

Q: Why four shapes?

A: I think, with shelf space now, you can't go more than five sizes. Now when you ask people to take your cigar, sometimes they say, I'll take it, but what do I take out? A lot of our projects now are four sizes. I don't think now you need more than four or five sizes. We're going to commit to those 400,000-plus cigars in the States. We still have '06, and maybe a little bit '07, but when they're gone, they're gone.

Q: But that blend is so good, you should do something with it after the cigars are gone.

A: Well, that's another thing. Maybe down the road we could come up with something. But with the 100 Años name, or box, or numbers, that will never be done again. It's a one-time deal.

Q: You're very opinionated about the U.S. cigar market. What do you think of the market today, and where we stand?

A: Cigars, in the last three years, everybody is making better cigars. The consumer of today, nine out of 10 going into the store, they like what they see. In 1997, 1998, maybe four out of 10 liked what they got. That's why you're seeing a lot more people coming back and smoking cigars, and youngsters, people who are 24, 25, 26. Sales are going up.

Q: What is the difference between the cigar market now, which is growing at a very good rate, maybe 8 percent annually, and the cigar boom?

A: '97, '98, 10 people would go into a cigar store, eight people would come out unsatisfied. They were buying $10 cigars that weren't worth $1.

Q: What is happening now that is keeping the sins of the past from happening again?

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