This past month, the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) association made a decision to table plans for a Consumer Day at the IPCPR Trade Show.  The concept of the Consumer Day would have allowed consumers to attend IPCPR in an afternoon session on day four following the actual 3 1/2 trade show.  Consumer attendees would pay a fee to attend and in addition to being admitted to the show floor, attendees would be given cigars to smoke and take home. The fee would have been used to fund legislative battles being faced by anti-tobacco/cigar factions. When the proposal was mentioned, it immediately became a polarizing debate, and the debate rages on following the decision by the IPCPR.  We at Cigar Coop agree with the IPCPR’s decision to table these plans. While this might seem to be an unpopular choice among consumers and many of our readers, we feel the decision really serves in the best interest of all parties.

From my point of view, here are some points to support this position.

1.The Business of the Trade Show is sales

First up, the IPCPR Trade Show is a buying show – plain and simple.  It is not meant to serve as an expo like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  There are some expo like aspects to the IPCPR Trade Show.  Manufacturers set up elaborate booths and often showcase new products.  However, the end goal of IPCPR is still for manufacturers to make sales to the retailers.  Under the current system, it is even difficult for us as the cigar media to report information as the primary business being done is order taking.  I see a Consumer Day, changing the dynamics of the entire show greatly.

2.Adding Consumers feeds to the problem of Consumers on the Show Floor

Many consumers who would go to a consumer day would have spent considerable money to get to Las Vegas or wherever IPCPR is being held.  I can see many of these consumers trying to maximize their time at IPCPR by getting passes via retailers and manufacturers.  This would feed to a problem the IPCPR is already trying to combat.

3.The extra half day will add additional costs to the manufacturers

Many manufacturers currently use the time after the final half day to pack up their booths.  Now this would involve many staying after-hours on Day 4 or even into the next day.  This comes at a cost to the manufacturers.  This also has a considerable impact on the smaller companies who do not have big budgets to begin with.

4.The extra half day has an impact on the retailers

Many say the last day of the show is slow to begin with.  However, there are still plenty of retailers making purchases right until the final bell.  The dynamics would change greatly now.  This could impact the last hours of the show as manufacturers will now have to transition from retailer attendee mode to consumer attendee mode.  I can also see many retailers packing up and going home after day 3 because of this transition that will happen on day 4, thus impacting sales as well.

I’ve attended the trade show from both a retailer and now a media perspective.  I can tell you this is not a forum for consumers to attend.   I’ve heard the argument as saying “consumers feed the cigar industry”.  There is no doubt about that.  Without consumers, there wouldn’t be a cigar industry.  However the IPCPR Trade Show is not set up to open the doors to allow consumers to go.

Perhaps a better solution would be for the IPCPR to work with existing events that are consumer friendly/expo-like such the Big Smoke, the Great Smoke, or Texas Cigar Festival to make these more “expo like”.  If things such as the innovative booth setups and more new product showcasing can be introduced to these consumer events, this might help fill some of the void felt from the consumer end.