Costa Rica does not have a strong cigar smoking tradition. As a result, interest in cigars and cigarillos among local consumers is low, with demand for such products being largely driven by inbound tourism.
Because visiting tourists represent the core consumer base, quality, indulgence and brand image will remain the most influential factors in purchasing decisions within cigars and cigarillos in Costa Rica over the forecast period. This in turn will ensure the category continues to be led by high-end Cuban brands that are globally renowned for their quality.
Recent years have seen a number of smaller local tobacco companies in Costa Rica expand their offer of fine cut tobacco and flavoured shisha (water pipe) tobacco products, including Don Benigno Cigars SA and Tabacos Exclusivos SA. Such products mainly target young adults who are not regular smokers, but enjoy rolling their own sticks or smoking shisha pipes.
Cruz Canela & Trust GB remained the clear leader in cigars and cigarillos in retail volume sales terms in 2018. The company’s commanding lead reflected its status as the exclusive distributor of brands from Cuba’s state-owned Corporación Habanos in Costa Rica (and Nicaragua).
While Cruz Canela maintained its strong lead in cigars and cigarillos in 2018, the remainder of the category was relatively fragmented, with several smaller local and regional players present. Domestic companies continued to perform well thanks to their competitive pricing strategies and the growing international reputation for quality enjoyed by Costa Rican brands.
Specialisation is likely to be a focal point for new product development activity in cigars and cigarillos over the forecast period. For example, it is expected more players will introduce products made using organic or ethically sourced tobacco leaves, artisanal curing and rolling methods etc.
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