Hang out at Renegade for any entire day and you are almost guaranteed to have at least one rep stop by the lounge. While it seems like a no-brainer that cigar brands have representatives making the rounds marketing their cigars, some brands actually do not employ reps at all. No matter what company they work for - trust us, these guys do a lot more then just sit around the lounge smoking cigars and making conversation!
Rep, Broker or Distributer?
As we mentioned above, not all cigar brands employ reps on their staff. In these cases most brands employ cigar brokers or distributers to market their cigars for them. These brokers & distributers represent multiple brands at the same time. This is usually done by smaller cigar brands to help gain traction in new markets before bringing on a full time employee. Some brands use a combination of reps and brokers (hiring reps for certain territories and leaving the rest to brokers). While brokers only handle the marketing of the cigars, distributers also handle the warehousing and distribution of cigars as well. Again, this helps lower the cost of entry for new brands and allows them to gain traction in the market.
Opening new accounts or servicing customers?
With the recent cigar boom and supply chain problems - most major manufacturers that we talked to either slowed down or completely stopped taking on new accounts. Instead of working on getting their cigars into new shops these reps focused on servicing their current accounts. This might have been done by ensuring proper merchandising of their product, running sales events in-store and helping the shop stay on top of ordering product. The best reps also act as salespeople for the shop they are visiting, recommending cigars to purchase based on customers’ taste preferences and educating people on their brand.
However, not every brand stopped opening up new accounts! Some brands are still actively looking for new shops to stock their product. Almost every single day there are emails from reps looking to make appointments or send samples for staff to try - some reps even just show up unannounced. Most markets have a few key shops that influence the shops around them, and reps work hard to get their cigars onto their shelves. The cigar industry is highly competitive and shelf space can be tough to get. This isn’t an easy road!
Long hours on the road
While working as a rep can certainly be an enjoyable job, it isn’t without downsides. Reps are who shops complain to about issues that arise and customers can be demanding. Territories can be large and oftentimes events happen on the weekends. Cigar reps often spend long hours on the road traveling between markets. This means a lot of time spent away from home and many nights spent in hotel rooms away from family. Next time you see a rep in the shop, spare them a few minutes of time and learn about their brand. Who knows, you might even find something new to smoke!