For the past four to five years, the cigar market in India has been growing 25 – 30% a year. The growth is attributed to young men and women who are entrepreneurs or who have achieved CEO status at their respective companies.
These young people see the cigar lounge and the art of cigar smoking as a way to relax, unwind and even network together at the end of a day. Not unlike our customs here in the United states.
Present day taxes and legislation are causing U.S. lounges and tobacconists to close up shop. On the other hand, new establishments are cropping up all over the Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai regions. Food and Beverage managers see the potential in this market and are creating standalone lounges at their hotels.
One of the bigger names in India’s cigar lounge business in Cingali. This past year, Cingali has sold over 4 million cigars, up from 1.5 million cigars a year five years ago. In three years, Cingali predicts sales of 10 million cigars.
Two new companies are ready to compete in this growing market; ITC Limited and The K.K. Modi Group.
ITC Limited rolled out a premium hand rolled cigar in 2010 called Armenteros. The cigar is manufactured by La Aurora. The cigar has an Ecuadorian wrapper that is grown in Nicaragua, Sumatran binder and a filler blend comprised of tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Peru.
The K.K. Modi Group is the largest importer of cigars in India, and is also the distributor for companies such as Habanos SA, Altadis, Davidoff, Scandinavian Tobacco Group, and Villiger Sons .
The main difference I see in India’s growth compared to the U.S. market is that it is aimed at and caters to an exclusive, higher end group. Whereas, the lounges and shops here in America are more of a level playing field where CEO’s and blue collar workers can get together and share their love of cigars.
I also can’t help but wonder if this cigar boom has been fueled by so many jobs being out-sourced from the United States to this region of India. Could it also be attributed to the smoking bans and tax laws that have been introduced in our country?