- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 February 28, 2003 

Luxury for Less: Tobacco company produces new line for domestic market

Armenian SPS Cigaronne Company, which three years ago introduced the Cigaronne Exclusive, a unique cigarette that was mostly filter, has just released its second line of production, the Cigaronne Classic.

Intended to reach a broader audience than the relatively-expensive Exclusive, a pack of the Classic sells for about 60 cents (as opposed to about $1 for the Exclusive).

Known in Armenia as something of a luxury item, a Cigaronne pack in the pocket became a smoker's status symbol. For those unfamiliar with the brand, the new product seems to have only superficial differences in appearance.

The five-year-old company says it was able to cut the price significantly by simplifying the original's luxury packaging details, such as the silver tab around each cigarette, the design of the wrapping paper, and the quality of the box.

"Unlike Cigaronne Classic, all of the packaging components of Cigaronne Exclusive are made of the most expensive materials and technology," says Nver Sargsyan, deputy head of information at SPS Cigaronne Company.

It was the distinct packaging, in fact, that landed Cigaronne in court last year in a trademark violation case brought by the Davidoff company, which claimed the Armenian cigarette company stole its design. Davidoff insisted that Cigaronne not be allowed to export to markets in which Davidoff was sold.

But a court found in favor of Cigaronne and the controversy over design was a boost to the Armenian company's sales.

The Cigaronne Exclusive, a blend of tobaccos from Norway, has been exported to more than 20 countries. Sargsyan, who insists that the quality of tobacco in the new product is the same as the more exclusive brand, says the Classic was created to compete in the domestic market.

Cigaronne's trademark has been its size and construction - an extra-long cigarette that is 67 millimeters tip and 53 millimeters tobacco. In its early production, Cigaronne promoted the cigarette as being less harmful to health because of the extreme filter.

Today Cigaronne's new assortment has found its special place in Armenian shops next to Winston, Camel, Salem. It isn't long since the production has been on sale, but it has already surpassed all expectations of the company.

Membership of Armenia to the World Trade Organization give a wide range of privileges, particularly tax benefits, to Cigaronne in terms of acting in the world market.

"Our primary goal is research of and penetration to new markets and of course increases of assortment," says Sargsyan. "At present Slim type of Cigaronne is being worked out, serious works are done to create a new-type tip, which will be entirely different from all the tips of the world tobacco production."

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