As a pipe tobacco enthusiast, I recognized a few challenges with the retail experience of purchasing pipe tobacco, for both new and experienced customers. From my experience, I pinpointed these specific challenges:
- Bulk blend labels not displaying the type of blend, just the blend name
- Bulk baggies are not adequate for long-term tobacco storage
- Tinned tobacco displays didn’t have enough information to make an informed product choice.
- On the tobacconist side, due to recent FDA regulations, tobacconists would have to pay very high fees in order to create a new tobacco blend as this would be considered a “new product”
I conducted unsolicited retail experience research for Fader’s tobacconist.
I interviewed six people for my study. Three pipe tobacco enthusiasts, and three folks that were cigar smokers and who were interested in trying pipe tobacco, and folks that were brand new to pipe smoking.
From my thematic analysis, the following themes rose to the surface:
- Pipe smokers preferred buying tobacco online because online listings tended to have more thorough product descriptions and customer reviews
- Pipe smokers preferred buying tobacco online because products were better organized and categorized
- Pipe smokers were willing to pay high shipping costs for the conveniences mentioned above
- New pipe smokers would often purchase tobacco, store it in the baggie it came in, and when they came back to it weeks later it would have dried out and been an unpleasant experience
- Tobacconists stopped creating new blends due to high fees imposed by the FDA
Bulk Jar Labels
Every tobacconist needs to sell bulk tobacco and Fader’s carries a lot of commercial, and house blends in their shops. Theses labels tell you the name of the blend, and the type of blend it is just above that.
Take Home Mason Jars
To most popular way to store tobacco is in glass mason jars. Mason jars are not only a great storage solution, they also look cool and are very inexpensive. So I created round paper labels for the tobacconist to write the name of the blend the customer is purchasing and for them to date the jar.
Signs and Tin Note Samplers
Alongside each pipe tobacco tin is a framed paper plaque that includes the current TobaccoReviews.org rating 1-5 (if 4+), a short sentence description of the tasting notes, the strength, the blend type, the contents, the cut, tasting notes, and the room note (the aroma of the smoke around the pipe smoker).
The first thing a pipe tobacco smoker will do after opening a tin, is regard the aroma of the tobacco, this is called the tin note. Since tin note is a very important aspect of choosing a pipe tobacco, a small amount of that tobacco will be available in a small mason jar with a magnetic lift off top that reveals a vented opening. This allows the customer to easily get the tin note of the closed tobacco tins before purchasing them.
Due to some coming FDA regulations, tobacconists that create their own blends of pipe tobacco could face thousands of dollars in fees for each “new” blend. So I developed a simple retail solution called blendvelopes. Now the tobacconist can create their new blends, easily portion out the ingredients, and provide customers with all the components they need to put their blend together at home.