The cigar store of the 21st century
Text: Manuel Fröhlich / Photos: Christian Schmid
At the end of April, Davidoff inaugurated its first flagship store with its new store concept in Basel.
When it comes to cigars, Davidoff is a leviathan. In the last year, the Davidoff Group realised an annual turnover of 1.3 billion Swiss francs, and employed almost 4,000 employees world-wide. With a network of 65 flagship stores, Davidoff is the only company in the industry that is able to market cigars independently throughout the world. So, when a company of that stature announces the opening of “the cigar store of the 21st century”, it is well-worth undertaking a trip to Basel and taking a closer look.
From now on Davidoff shops will be called “Davidoff of Geneva – since 1911”. Customers in search of luxuries should immediately feel at home in the new Davidoff store. The dominant colour is orange, a blend of Hermès and Cohiba. An eye-catching feature is the wooden slats that bring to mind the Caribbean. Similarly, a flat screen displaying pictures of cigar-producing countries creates a Caribbean feel. The centrepiece of the store, however, is the large glass walk-in humidor, which is highly visible from outside, and which is intended to tempt both customers and passers-by. Davidoff is also proud of the so-called “iPad Instore App” with virtual advisor and multimedia content.
Five international agencies tendered for the contract to develop the new store concept, which was awarded to “Stories”, a retail agency from France with a good reputation in the luxury goods branch. The store concept also benefitted from the results of a series of tests: in collaboration with a specialist consultancy company (Envirosell, New York), Davidoff tried out new elements and ideas, evaluating them through video recordings and customer surveys. The results have, for example, influenced the positioning of products in the humidor and the design of the aisles. And something else that they learned: novices prefer to choose their cigars based upon a description of its flavour. Davidoff is also implementing what is known as shelf space management, using software to optimise the placement of products on the shelves, in a manner already familiar from the retail trade. In the “bulls-eye zone”, at the customer’s eye-level, Davidoff presents a range of single cigars and cases. The humidor is conspicuously sparsely stocked, with very few boxes on offer. This is a consequence of consumer behaviour, as Davidoff-CEO Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard explains: Sales of boxes have been dropping off for years, while small quantities are becoming more popular. The fact that Cuban cigars are not the main focus for Davidoff comes as no surprise; the flagship stores are to position themselves as specialists for the Davidoff range, although a selection of Habanos will be included, and cigarettes, pipes and accessories will ensure that Davidoff covers the whole spectrum. Davidoff is selling cigars as a luxury item using a standardised concept, in the same way that other global luxury brands market their goods. In the cigar industry, however, Davidoff’s approach is unique, which is a big advantage. But the flip-side of the standardisation coin is the loss of the personal touch, of individuality, and this creates opportunities for local specialist tobacco dealers – even in the 21st century.