Well, for us the IPCPR has come to a close, and while it still carries on through Thursday, we here at Cigar Brief have traveled back to our humble abodes in Arizona to recover and resume life. We have lots of content that will continue to come forth in the days ahead, but a lengthy day at the show, driving back home, and family time has only given me a few precious moments to write, before I wearily drop into bed and begin my recovery process, from the madness that is Vegas and the IPCPR. So here, in a fun little acrostic are some of my impressions of the IPCPR.
I- Impressive, the show, to say the very least was impressive in scope and execution.The manufacturers really went all out to impress the retailers with a stellar line-up of products. Many of the usual suspects, and a lot of the new boutique lines worked hard throughout the year to creatively dream up new ways to engage the cigar market.
P- Product, The show had some great manufacturers who are really creating some interesting products this year. From the cigars to the cigar sizes and the packaging they came in; everything was open to interpretation this year, and this really allowed the manufacturers to take some creative licenses as to how they wanted to increase their product recognition. Some individuals who stand out in the product and presence department are the folks at Drew Estate who are turning out some amazing and different cigars as well as some amazing art. Some others that stand out are American Kick A$$ Cigars for their unique promotional ideas (more on that in a future article), General and CAO for really realizing the direction CAO needs to go and working hard to take it there with panache, La Flor Dominicana for their Airbender packaging, and Gran Habano for their avant garde box art that offends some, but creates an opportunity for dialogue about a popular human rights issue.
C-Consumer, From the conglomerates to the boutiques this year was all about creating cigars for the everyman consumer. To be sure, there are the Davidoff’s of the world to meet the needs of the upper crust, but for the average joe there was an abundance of products designed to fit their budget and vitola preferences. From the new Loyal line at Torano to the bundles of Matt Urbano, there were great cigars that one could fall in love with for a minimal cost. You can’t please everyone, but this year really showcased a concerted effort by the manufacturers to really create a unique stick for the everyman, who prefers to buy a five dollar cigar, one stick at a time.
P-Press, The tides are turning, and whether you take the opinion that printed media is here to stay or on its way out, or somewhere in between, one thing is for sure, online news media outlets are becoming increasingly popular. Online press is nimble, malleable, and to a large part unconstrained. We are gaining access to the industry and taking the news straight to the masses as fast as our fingers can hit the keyboard. And while the online community has many positives it also has its drawbacks and can be somewhat of a Wild West scenario. This IPCPR brought a cyber world into reality when we got to spend some time with many of our other online brother’s of the leaf. Many of the manufacturer’s too recognize the trend, and were gracious and savvy enough to reach out and talk with the online community about their new products. The access was amazing and the love and respect that was given by many manufacturer’s was humbling. The greatest fan of the online media movement, Jonathan Drew, was even gracious enough to throw a social get together for the online news outlets from all over the web. It was a neat experience and I know that many of us really appreciated the event and the kindness of the guys over at Drew Estate. The bottom line is online media is on the rise and the cigar industry is starting to take notice.
R-Respect, Many industries get caught up in internecine conflicts that find companies locked in an immortal quest to outdo each other. While there is a healthy competitive spirit in the industry, one of the things I truly loved about the IPCPR was the respect that the majority of these companies showed each other. The cigar industry really is a tight knit group and many of the key players truly enjoy each others company (even if they are in direct competition with each other). I was fortunate enough to spend a few nights observing the majority of the movers-and-shakers in the industry hang out with each other at the circle bar in the Venetian. You could see the warm bonds of camaraderie and respect as they shook each others hands and gave each other a firm hug. Age was no separator as the younger generations and older generations warmly swapped stories and complemented each other on their new products. It was inspiring to watch and a great reminder of the power of the brotherhood of the leaf.
So that’s it my friends, it was a whirling daze of long days and even longer nights. I learned much on my trip about the inner workings of the industry and the hopes of those in it. While not everything was controversy free, the overall tone was one of enthusiasm and enjoyment from the retailer to the manufacturer. Obviously not all of my stories can be contained in one place, so stay tuned as we continue to reveal the best of what the show had to offer in the days ahead!