Cuba Changes Classification of Cigar Brands

Cuba Changes Classification of Cigar Brands
Photo/Angus McRitchie

Habanos S.A., the Cuban cigar monopoly, has simplified the way it classifies cigars into two main categories: Global Brands and Portfolio Brands.

The Global category consists of six of the country’s best-known brands: Cohiba, H. Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo, Partagás and Romeo y Julieta. Those brands are sold in every market where Cuban cigars are available, and in all La Casa del Habano shops around the world.

“We felt that the old system has lost its meaning for consumers as brands like Trinidad and Quai d’Orsay become very popular,” says a Habanos S.A. source. “That’s why we are making this change.”

The Portfolio category is made up of 21 brands, divided into three sub-categories: high-value brands, volume brands and an umbrella category called “other.”

The Alto Valor, or high-value segment, consists of Bolívar, Punch, Ramon Allones and Trinidad. These brands are usually available worldwide, except in markets where there may be trademark conflicts.

The volume brand category has only three brands: Jose L. Piedra, Quintero and Vegueros. These are cigars sold at more affordable prices. Vegueros cigars, for example, retail for as little as 4 CHF ($4) in Switzerland, about half the price of a Montecristo No. 4.

The “other” category is more of a catchall for 14 cigar lines that include brands with a small global presence and brands that are marketed with specific regions in mind. This is where you will see Cuaba, Diplomaticos, El Rey del Mundo, Fonseca, Juan Lopez, La Flor de Cano, La Gloria Cubana, Por Larrañaga, Quay d’Orsay, Rafael Gonzalez, San Cristobal de la Habana, Saint Luis Rey, Sancho Panza, and Vegas Robaina.

The prior classification system included four categories: Global Brands, Niche Brands, Multi-Local Brands and Local Brands.