Last year Cigar Coop introduced two new performance rating categories: Impacts of Sponsored Cigars on Scoring and Impacts of Samples Used on Scoring.
Performance Ratings are a collection of analytical data for the past Cigar Year on Cigar Coop. Last year these categories were introduced in response to feedback the media consistently hears one scoring – namely “sponsors compromise scoring” and “free samples compromise scoring.” I have long contended that sponsorship and samples are a part of the media landscape. It’s not something you can easily shrug off.
While these debates have been around forever, the impetus for this exercise came from a couple of podcasts in 2020: The Lounge Experience and The Bulb Podcast. On both podcasts, the question was raised on the impact of sponsors. I thank them for making this public.
Without further ado, here is the analysis.
- A Sponsor is defined as a company that funds a marketing campaign on Cigar Coop. In this case, it is banner advertising on the website, or podcasts reads on the podcasts. The company is a distributor, brand owner, or manufacturer.
- A Sample is a cigar that is provided by the company that manufactures and/or distributes the product.
- If a company only sponsored a portion of the year, they were still considered a sponsor regardless of the review date.
- If samples were used and cigars were also purchased for an assessment, the cigar is said to have had samples provided.
- Samples are always disclosed on Cigar Coop reviews.
- A total of 163 cigars were assessed for “the Cigar Coop Cigar Year” starting from November 1st, 2020 through October 31st, 2021.
Averages included for each with # of cigars included in the data set in parentheses
|2021: Avg (# of Cigars)||%||2020: Avg (# of Cigars||%|
|Overall Data Set||89.06 (163)||100%||89.45(172)||100.00%|
|Non Sponsored Brands||88.96 (104)||63.8%||89.53(102)||59.30%|
|No Samples Used (Purchased)||89 (65)||39.8%||89.67(97)||56.40%|
A detailed breakdown:
The Analysis (2021 Data)
Whether sponsored vs. non-sponsored or sample vs. no samples, our goal is to have even scoring on both sides of the fence. This will demonstrate the consistency performed on each cigar review whether a sample is received or not – or whether it’s from a sponsor or not. Much like last year, things did come pretty close.
- Contrary to what people believe, we still review more cigars that are not from our sponsors (63.8%) vs. cigars from our sponsors (36.2%)
- 2021 definitely saw a higher reliance on samples than 2020. Our goal is to strive closer to a 50/50 balance, so this is something hopefully that can be rectified in 2022.
- The overall average score for cigars reviewed on Cigar Coop in 2020 was 89.06 – the lowest average in our 11 years. One can certainly argue we are still scoring too high.
- Cigars from Sponsors scored higher (89.26) than cigars that were not from sponsors (88.96). This was different than 2020 when sponsored cigars scored lower.
- While one can argue 0.26 points is not a huge difference between 2021 sponsored versus non-sponsored cigars, Cigar Coop strives to have these numbers as close as possible.
- Cigars where samples were received scored slightly higher (89.09) than cigars strictly purchased (89.00). This is different than 2020 when samples received scored lower.
- The Sample vs. Non-Sample Average is closer to the goal of having both cigars even in average scoring.
I would encourage our audience to make their own decisions based on the data provided – and it’s quite possible the game changes in future years for these numbers look different.
Finally, last year I encouraged other cigar media to conduct similar exercises. With the exception of Developing Palates, I’ve not seen anything done showing this data. I am confident many media brands would also demonstrate consistency whether sponsors or samples are used.