Should PCA, TPE, and Intertabac work together? And can they? Would the upside be higher than the downside? What are the pros, what are the cons? Where do the trade shows profit from working together, and where will it cost them? Those are good questions to ask and analyze. This period, with the cancelation of the PCA and Intertabac might be the right time to make some much-needed changes to improve the quality of the shows.
First it’s important to recognize what each trade show is. The PCA and TPE are both trade shows for the American tobacconists. The tobacconists often order straight from the manufacturers Intertabac is different, even though European retailers do visit the trade show, it is more of a show for international distributors. None of the tobacco producers, it doesn’t matter if its cigars, cigarettes, hookah, or other tobacco products, sell straight to retailers in Europe. So they do show off new products to distributors and retailers but only sell to their distributor in each territory. Some accessory brands do sell straight to retailers.
Cigars and other tobacco
The PCA stands for Premium Cigar Association, and the name says it all. The trade show is only open or exhibitors in the cigar industry and accessories. TPE is organized by Kretek International and focuses on the tobacco industry as a whole, and all that is related to it. Just like Intertabac. Smokeless tobacco, vape, cigarettes, and everything else you can buy in tobacco retail shops around the world.
This year, four large exhibitors decided not to participate with PCA but to exclusively exhibit at TPE. In the last two years, more cigar manufacturers decided to exhibit at the TPE too. That has to do with dwindling numbers of visitors to PCA and rising costs. Late March we published an article on why PCA should postpone and the 5th reason still stands.
PCA and TPE working together?
In our article late march, we suggested that PCA should postpone till February or March to compete with TPE. But in hindsight, and after listening to a discussion with cigar manufacturers we changed our mind. TPE and PCA should work together. Have both trade shows on the same weekend in the same town. All the cigar manufacturers and cigar accessories are in one location under the PCA banner. All other tobaccos and tobacco-related products are in the second location closely. Visitors can either buy a ticket for PCA, TPE, or a discounted ticket to both shows.
Why the separation between both shows is important has to do with the current fight against the FDA and pending regulation. On one hand the cigar industry says “we are different than other tobacco products” but if you exhibit with those other products you’re also saying that you’re the same. So it would be beneficial to separate the cigar manufacturers from cigarettes, vapes, weed, and other tobacco-related products. But what is the pro for the trade shows to work together? Well, for one, TPE attracts a different kind of tobacconist than the PCA and vice versa. If they fly into Las Vegas and get the chance to see both trade shows while they are there, they will. And with that, a new group of potential customers will walk the trade show floor. The visitor numbers will go up. For the retailers it is also beneficial, instead of two trips to Las Vegas, there is only one with a combined trade show.
The trade show should take place at the beginning of the year. In a discussion with William Cooper aka Cigar-Coop, he mentioned that later than March would be hard for the American tobacconist. With spring break, father’s day, easter, and graduation the time that retailers can travel is limited. So maybe a combined TPE/PCA in February or March would be the best option.
There is less of an issue with Intertabac. The most problematic about that trade show is the September date. But we will get back to that later. As far as separating premium cigars from other tobacco products, Intertabac is already sort of doing that. Not strict, as premium cigar manufacturers, accessory brands, and humidor builders are spread over three halls (out of the 7) with the cigarette and rolling paper exhibitors mixed in as well. But all the vape exhibitors are packed together in two other halls. If the organizers could fit all the premium cigar booths and the cigar accessory exhibitors in two halls without the cigarette and rolling paper exhibitors that would be an improvement.
But as we said, the date is the biggest issue. Just like in America, summer is the best season for most tobacconists. So having a tradeshow with ‘new’ cigars that have been introduced in the United States months before does not make sense. It may have worked in a time before social media, but having two different release dates does not work anymore. Impatient cigar lovers from all over the world order the new cigars from the United States before they are offered to international markets. And getting new product in right before the slow season does not do anyone any good. So we suggest the big American trade show in February. Then pack up the booths, ship them to Dortmund, and set them up for an early April Intertabac. And to attract more exhibitors, Intertabac, TPE, and PCA could even offer discounts to exhibitors that exhibit at the trade shows on both sides of the ocean.