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The US cigar market over the past 30 years

In 1992, just 30 years ago, cigar consumption in the US market had fallen to historic levels.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, between the mid-1960s and early 1990s, cigar sales fell by over 66%. What few expected was that an unprecedented boom would soon begin that would bring about important changes in the US market that, in turn, impacted the tobacco industry.

Many believe that the cause of the boom and the transformation that was generated over time was the appearance, in the fall of 1992, of Cigar Aficionado, a magazine that featured a blind tasting of cigars, created to help consumers navigate the cigar market and make purchasing decisions.  It is very possible that this was the case because, from that moment on, consumers had access to information that stimulated a different behavior than the one they had had up to that moment.

Let’s see some of the changes that were generated in these 30 years:

·      About buying habits.

One of the most notable transformations is that consumers have opened up to explore new options, abandoning the loyalty they have traditionally shown for brands. People, who until 1992 used to buy the same box of cigars on a regular basis, began to arrive at stores with lists of the ratings published by Cigar Aficionado, looking for individual cigars they wanted to try. 

·      About the taste of consumers.

Consumers' taste began to lean towards premium cigars, which directly impacted imports of this market segment, which tripled between 1992 and 1996 and skyrocketed in 1997 to 418 million units, a record that had not been broken before it was equaled in November of last year when 420 million were imported. 

Today, premium cigars dominate the market and, for some years now, there has been a boom in super premium cigars. 

The taste for the size and thickness of cigars also changed. Smokers are now leaning towards much larger and thicker formats, to the point that some as bulky as those measuring 6 inches by 60 ring gauge, which until some time ago were considered a curiosity, today are common in the most commercial humidors and have become usual retail purchases. 

·      About exporting countries

Although cigar exports to the US market were led for more than three decades by the Dominican Republic, that situation changed in 2016, when Nicaraguan cigars began to lead the purchase ranking in the US, which continues until now. 

In short, arguably one of the most interesting changes that has occurred in the US market over the past 30 years is that today's cigar smokers have not only become accustomed to frequently seeing new cigars on retail store shelves, but they eagerly await them. 

Sources:

A Brief History of the Cigar Industry  https://www.cigaraficionado.com/article/a-brief-history-of-the-cigar-industry-16667

25 Years of Change  https://www.cigaraficionado.com/article/25-years-of-change

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