The Value of the RYO Connoisseur

Scandinavian Tobacco’s brand manager discusses an emerging sector of RYO consumers

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

TUCKER, Ga. -- While both the RYO/MYO and accessories segments are typically associated with value-driven consumers, Leonard Wortzel, Scandinavian Tobacco Group Lane's vice president of marketing and product development, has observed another, perhaps surprising, tobacco consumer entering the category.

"There is another segment of true cigarette tobacco smokers that are connoisseurs," he said. "They could care less about the price they're paying."

While one Scandinavian's premium RYO tobacco offering Peter Stokkebye retails at a higher price than the company's popular RYO Bugler Tobacco, Wortzel said that Stokkebye--and other high-end loose tobaccos--are increasing in volume, thanks in part to the rise in premium RYO/MYO consumers.

"There is a subset of consumers out there who may have been machine-made cigarette smokers but now are looking for a different experience," said Wortzel. "They don't want some generic machine-made tobacco."

This type of consumer is drawn to making their own cigarettes because they get to actually touch and smell the tobacco, controlling the amount and blend that goes into each cigarette they smoke.

"They're probably not doing any tubing with this tobacco, but more and more of that segment is becoming aware of finding a better way to roll and craft their own high-quality cigarette," Wortzel said. "It's very comparable to the craft or micro beer drinker. There is this little subset that's occurring where folks are taking a little bit of this tobacco and little bit of that tobacco to create their own blend. It's a small subset, but it's out there."

Which means there’s an even wider base of consumers for tobacco accessories.

"While you're not really attracting that mainstream consumer, you are consistently and continually now attracting both the extreme value consumer and the premium consumer," said Wortzel.