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    Why Swisher Is 2016’s OTP Category Captain

    Supplier subscribes to a “Right Items in the Right Stores” balanced strategy.

    By Susan Durtschi, Past Times Marketing

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — One of the most significant challenges in the other tobacco products (OTP) category during the past two years has been the expansion of limited-time offerings (LTOs) being promoted by multiple manufacturers. The Swisher International Inc. category management team worked proactively to understand this task from both an analytical and channel perspective to determine proper space allocation by segment in this changing environment.

    For its efforts, Swisher International was selected winner of the 2016 Convenience Store News Category Captains award in the other tobacco products category.

    Now in its third year, the awards program applauds outstanding category management initiatives implemented in the convenience channel over the past 12 months. All entries were judged by product development experts at consumer research firm Past Times Marketing based on the information supplied by participating companies.

    Swisher found that despite competitive pricing, the overall category has delivered healthy growth on the strength of a “Right Items in the Right Stores” category management strategy. It has incorporated both a detailed and high-level approach to assist retailers in analyzing adult consumer preferences and purchase patterns. By utilizing MSAi distributor-to-retailer data, the company has been able to develop specific, tailored analytics for its retail partners in an immediate fashion.

    Swisher works vigorously on innovative responses to adult consumers’ preferences across all of its major brands, including Swisher Sweets and Kayak.

    Swisher Sweets launched a limited-edition line of large cigars with a goal to create unique and creative blend profiles, and generate adult consumer excitement in the category. Due to the popularity of Sticky Sweets and Summer Twist, Swisher Sweets has continued the trend of releasing new and intriguing blends including Calypso Cream and Wild Rush. Most notable in terms of innovation was the January 2015 launch of unsweet Swisher Diamonds, which has become the No. 4-selling large cigar based on the MSAi database as of Nov. 28, 2015.

    Last year, Swisher finalized the purchase of Drew Estate, a premium cigar company. In collaboration, Swisher introduced the ACID Cigarillo in three distinct blends. These brands offer enhanced profits for distributors and retailers. With premium brands like ACID Cigarillo and ACID G-Fresh, Swisher hopes to grow the premium category in the c-store market.

    The foundation of Swisher’s category management efforts is a balanced portfolio approach with an intense focus on innovation, analytics, and execution of winning strategies focused on the success of the entire OTP category. Utilizing MSAi insights, programs and planograms are customized to meet specific customer goals and adult consumer demands, the company noted.

    The Partners in Profit program is a perfect example of the execution of this strategy. The category captain provides its partners with revenue-generating products and promotions in all of its OTP lines with the objective to grow not only Swisher sales, but the full OTP category in every store.

    Retailers who have participated in Partners in Profit have increased volume by 23 percent in the large cigar category based on the MSAi database as of Nov. 28.

    For more on the winners and their category management initiatives, look in the Convenience Store News Guide to Category Management, published this month.

    By Susan Durtschi, Past Times Marketing
    • About Susan Durtschi Susan Durtschi is president and CEO of Past Times Marketing, a consumer research firm. Convenience Store News partners annually with Past Times Marketing to conduct its Category Captains and Best New Products Awards competitions. For more information, go to www.pasttimesmarketing.com.

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