Cigars, cigarillos and smoking tobacco continued to be a small niche in 2020, with sales dwarfed by those of cigarettes. Retail volume growth in 2020 continued to be driven by fine cut tobacco in spite of the widespread illicit fine cut tobacco trade, which was halted somewhat during the year thanks to border closures as a result of the pandemic.
Cigars and pipe tobacco saw poorer performances in volume terms in 2020 with cigars seeing slower volume growth, while pipe tobacco saw a small acceleration in its downward volume growth trajectory. Cigarillos, on the other hand, saw slightly faster growth in volume terms during the year.
There was only one new product launch within smoking tobacco in 2020, JT International ad’s Old Holborn. Producers were reluctant to invest in new launches during the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fine cut tobacco is expected to continue benefiting from being regarded as a good low-priced alternative to cigarettes in the forecast period, with price-sensitivity likely to rise as a result of economic uncertainty. Many smokers are thus likely to switch to fine cut tobacco, particularly as taxes are expected to further increase on cigarettes.
The popularity of non-Cuban cigars has been growing amongst consumers during the review period, with this trend set to continue during the forecast period. This will likely lead to better offers of cigars from, for example Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, and these cigars’ volume share is likely to continue growing.
Manufacturers of cigars, cigarillos and smoking tobacco are expected to be more active when it comes to new product launches in the short and medium term. This is especially likely within fine cut tobacco which is gaining in popularity amongst consumers as a cheaper alternative to cigarettes.
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