Promoting Pipe Tobacco

An interview with Leonard Wortzel of Scandinavian Tobacco Group.

Pipe tobacco is still very much a popular category for retailers. The challenge, however, is how to make pipe tobacco products even more appealing in today’s market. Leonard Wortzel, vice president of marketing and product development at Scandinavian Tobacco Group Lane, Ltd. (STG Lane), offers advice and tips on how you can successfully market pipe tobacco products today, and how to reach new pipe smokers in one of tobacco’s oldest categories. The following are excerpts from that conversation.

Tobacco Business: What are your tips for building an effective marketing team?
Leonard Wortzel: The first rule is to hire somebody smarter than you. For us, I won’t say that we’ve gravitated away from hiring people with a tobacco background, but we certainly expect a good marketer who can bring a fresh look to the categories.

In my case, these are products I’ve been staring at day in and day out for several years now. It’s good to have somebody who hasn’t had that initial exposure to tobacco as a market who can come in and look at it as a consumer [would] and be able to look at it in a different way. Beyond all of the other things you’d generally want in an employee, a lot of it is hiring somebody who can knock your company out of its complacency in the way you’re used to looking at things.

How can retailers best promote and market pipe tobacco products to consumers? It’s a challenge because if you’re new to the category, the product really doesn’t explain itself. In an ideal world, you’ll have a very knowledgeable staff. The No. 1 priority is making sure that people know you sell pipe tobacco. You need to create an awareness that you’re in the business of selling pipe tobacco. That’s your primary challenge.

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