Smoking cigars and cigarillos is becoming more mainstream. These products are increasingly accessible to a wider audience, as convenience stores, newsagent-tobacconists/kiosks and supermarkets have widened their product selections in the affordable price segment to cater to the growing demand from new smokers.
Although pipe tobacco continued to see current value and volume growth in 2018, it remained a niche category within smoking tobacco. Meanwhile, fine cut tobacco also continued to witness volume and current value growth in 2018, as it is seen as a good alternative to cigarettes.
Cigars saw slowing volume growth in 2018, due to increases in the unit prices of popular cigar brands such as Davidoff and Partagás. These price rises were mainly due to price adjustments by manufacturers, but also because of the low ringgit exchange rate, coupled with the increase in sales tax in 2018.
With a myriad of product offerings in both cigars and cigarillos, Swisher International Group remained the largest player in cigars and cigarillos in volume terms in 2018. Its Swisher Sweets, King Edward and Swisher BlackStone brands offer a wide variety of flavour and filter variants in machine-manufactured cigars and cigarillos.
In August 2018, major premium cigar retailer Cigar Malaysia opened a new store in KLCC Suria, an upscale shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur. This indicates the growing demand amongst affluent consumers for premium cigars such as Montecristo and Hoyo de Monterrey.
Players in cigars and cigarillos are focusing on distributing through convenience stores and supermarkets, which are emerging as go-to channels for the purchase of cigars, cigarillos and smoking tobacco. This is due to their close proximity, abundant distribution points and affordable prices.
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