In pursuit of flavor sensations
"Pipe-smokers are actually a relatively disloyal breed of consumer, constantly in pursuit of exciting new flavors," says Matz Thomassen, international export manager for pipe tobacco and moist snuff in Swedish Match´s North Europe Division. "We work ceaselessly to find ways of satisfying their curiosity and launched no fewer than six new products last year."
Pipe-smokers are seldom content with only one type of pipe tobacco. Unlike cigarette smokers, who seldom or never change brands, pipe tobacco enthusiasts prefer to vary their choice of pipe tobacco depending on location and mood. Pipe-smoking is their hobby and their pipe is like a good friend. A favorite pastime is to browse among the tobacco shelves in search of exciting new blends and flavor sensations never experienced before. It is not unusual for a pipe smoker to have five or six different pipes at home, one for each favorite tobacco. The key factors in the pipe smoker´s world are quality, variety and flavor experiences.
"In general, Borkum Riff is doing better than its competitors, largely because we are constantly active and launch many new products," says Matz Thomassen. "Customers want a broad range that covers all flavor preferences. Another strength of the Borkum Riff brand is that it is universally available. Regardless of where the pipe smoker is traveling, he can always find his Borkum Riff and can rest assured that it will taste the same as it does back home. This gives the brand credibility and the consumer security."
Thanks to its long experience and expertise, Swedish Match can afford to broaden its approach and rely extensively on feelings and finesse in its product-development work. However, the starting point is always to listen to consumers. With the help of some of the world´s foremost product developers and tobacco experts, selected tobaccos are painstakingly blended and flavored to satisfy all the pipe smoker´s wishes. Imagination and curiosity join forces with experience and inventiveness.
"The pipe smoker is a self-confident person who makes his own choices. While we do not make his choices for him, we offer what we believe he will want," says Matz Thomassen.
Translates everything to tobacco
The idea for a new product can crop up on the most unexpected occasions," says Matz.
Not very long ago, a juicy orange in a lonely hotel room, followed by a creative conversation with a customer, resulted in a product launch with a unique combination of flavors.
"I have a habit of trying to translate everything I taste to pipe tobacco, so I simply packed down the fresh peel from the orange I had just eaten into a can together with some tobacco to see what would happen."
When he opened the can a month or so later, the tobacco had absorbed the aroma from the orange peel, and when he tried smoking it, it turned out that the combination had a fantastic flavor. The tobacco and the orange flavor had "married," as people say in tobacco jargon.
"Shortly afterwards, a customer expressed a wish for an orange flavor, but combined with honey. This was a tough challenge for the product developers, since these flavors are considered incompatible and tend to clash," relates Matz.
As a result, it took a relatively long time to create the desired flavor, but September 2005 saw the launch of Borkum Riff Orange & Honey, a unique pipe tobacco that is now available in parts of Europe and the Arab countries.
"The consumers are lyrical. The result was a product with the purest tobacco flavor imaginable. It is extremely mild, but has a distinct character of orange and honey, yet without overpowering the natural tobacco flavor," says Matz, as he contentedly draws in the aromas from the tobacco. "The citrus aroma and flavor make an immediate impact, while the honey flavor takes a few minutes to pick up."