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Can you tell us a little of the history of your brand?

Back in 1963 Café Crème took the large cigar experience and condensed it into the world’s first small cigar, and to this day we take pride in the fact that our cigars are almost identical in wrapper colour and smoking enjoyment. It’s a dedication to quality that has made the brand a favourite amongst adult smokers and of course nowadays Café Crème is known by the name of Signature, and is the UK’s number one miniature cigar, representing sixty years of quality, experience and craftsmanship. It’s become a truly global brand which is now sold in over 80 countries worldwide. Here in the UK, the Signature brand portfolio is currently worth nearly £50m in annual sales, making it a must-stock for any tobacco retailer, with strong products in both the miniature and cigarillo segments. We’re very proud to be celebrating this important anniversary for Signature and want to thank all the retailers who have played such a vital role in its continued success.

How has the cigar category been performing over the last year?

Cigars remain an important category for any grocery retailer, driving both footfall in-store and profit in tills. Our latest data shows the total cigar category to be down slightly by 3.4% in value terms compared to last year, at £282.1m. Whilst cigarillo sales continue to grow (currently £99.1m, and up 0.7% on last year), the more traditional cigar segments are all in slight decline which is likely to be due to a combination of factors such as some smokers moving into vaping or pouches, and / or people cutting down due to the on-going cost of living crisis.

And how has your brand been performing?

Signature Blue remains the bestselling ‘traditional’ cigar brand, but having said that, it’s been a slightly challenging last twelve months or so for the brand portfolio for a number of reasons, but the important thing is that we have a plan in place which we are now executing to get Signature back where we want it to be.

What are the biggest trends in the cigar market?

I think there’s little doubt that the cost-of-living crisis is highlighting the importance of value as a consumer trend at the moment. Many consumers are going to be increasingly price conscious, and this will affect cigars and the wider tobacco category purchases just as much as any other category in-store, so retailers should ensure they are highlighting their value brands to customers to help them save money.

What are the keys to the success of Signature?

Signature has become a recognisable and iconic cigar brand which offers a smooth taste and smoking experience with an unquestionable high quality, and this really appeals to adult smokers who enjoy a miniature cigar.

What is driving the brand’s success and growth?

The biggest success story in the Signature portfolio at the moment would probably be our Signature Action cigarillo. It’s not the best-selling cigarillo on the market but it’s currently the fastest growing and usually the best value at £4.95 for a pack of ten.

How do you work with wholesalers to help them grow their business?

We regularly have meetings with our wholesale partners, discussing the market dynamics and ensuring their product mix is what the consumers and retailers are asking for. We also support wholesaler to retail purchases of NPD through promotions and money off incentives. As we know, this can improve footfall into the wholesaler and potentially influence other purchases in depot, so a ‘win win’ for both parties.

Has Signature dared to be different?

I think Signature’s longevity and success is down to it being a consistently superior product at an affordable price, which has remained contemporary for the last sixty years.

What is the personality of Signature?

As the original Café Crème name suggests, the brand’s heritage and original appeal lies in the cafe culture of European metropolitan cities, and to this day its personality is centred around sharing moments of enjoyment, either alone or with family and friends. Consumers like the fact it mirrors the experience of a high-quality large cigar and condenses it into a short smoke that can be enjoyed at any time.

What is the profile of the target consumer of Signature?

I think the target consumer for Signature is probably quite varied, but in general they are probably between the ages of 30-50 and predominantly male. Some regular Signature smokers will stick with the Blue or Original variants while others will be looking for flavour, so our vanilla flavoured Signature Red Filter or a peppermint cigarillo like Signature Action are both good options for them.

Do you have any NPD to talk about?

We have recently been delighted to confirm the permanent return of the iconic tins for packs of Signature Blue 20’s and Signature Original 20’s, which not only look great but help keep the cigars fresh and fully protected.

How are you supporting your brand this year?

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Signature, the world’s first small cigar, STG UK has recently launched a range of limited-edition packs to bring excitement and interest to the cigar category. The new limited-edition packs have been designed to celebrate the brand’s anniversary and give retailers a talking point to their customers, as well as giving our consumers something new and different. The pack messaging highlights not only the longevity of the brand but also the consistent quality that has made it a preferred choice for well over half a century. Retailers should take the opportunity to stock up, as limited-edition packs usually prove popular with regular smokers and will be in demand.


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