Habanos Academy: The Space for Habanos Masters
Conceived as a training system in three levels –Master, Senior and Junior- with the main goal of standardizing the information about Cuban habanos (D.O.P.), the initiative also seeks to reinforce communication regarding such an exclusive product among the staff of Habanos S.A. Exclusive Distributors S.A. throughout the world, and through them, among retailers and the staff of the different sale points and even with the ultimate costumers.
As a concept, Habanos Academy looks for future Masters to see by themselves and touch with their own hands everything related to habanos, from the tobacco plantations to the factories.
“Although we have always provided training to the staff in our distributing companies and Cuban premium habano sales specialists, this initiative is much superior because of its degree and scope,” Habanos S.A.’s Marketing Director Ana Lopez said.
“But it is also timely –she admits- allowing for the complex context around Cuban habano smokers, lovers and aficionados in the world, affected by restrictions that, in some markets, have left little space to enjoy them, almost none possibilities for public communication, which obviously can hinder its commercialization.”
The training for the Master category is exclusively reserved to Cuba, the cradle of this product and where all of its rich history and hundred-year-old tradition is treasured. The graduates of the course (there have been two graduations, 2011 and 2012) receive a degree as Trainers and they can, after reaching this level, organize Junior and Senior courses in their respective markets in close coordination with Habanos S.A., the highest authority of the project.
The company’s products make up 71% of the world offer of premium habanos, representing in terms of value, 80% of sales.
Habanos S.A. has more than 140 franchises in all the continents of the world, with outlets in more than 150 countries and currently works with 50 distributors –41 of them are exclusive. At the international level, it boasts other exclusive places like Habanos Specialists, Cohiba Atmosphere and Smoking Lounges, which, along with Casas del Habano stores, are the ideal spots to buy, smoke, showcase and enjoy the tradition and history of the Cuban habano.
According to Daymi Difurniao, Habanos S.A. host for the first two Master courses by the Habanos Academy in Cuba, “for the initiative, we decided to open all the doors to the fascinating world of Habano, from the fields to the factories, and marketing, because the idea is for participants to see and touch it all with their hands, looking to make them stronger in their knowledge, loyalty and defense for this one-of-a-kind product.”
“Anyone, as it is widely known, can tell that the Cuban habano is the best one of the world, but it would make more sense and it would be much more convincing if we’d explain why and contribute to promoting it with clearer and resounding elements, as we want our graduates to do it in their positions and markets, once they receive their certificate as Trainers, which is suppose to make them active promoters of the Habano habano phenomenon, based on what they win in terms of education and specialization,” the specialist said.
Habanos S.A. was created in 1994 and is the exclusive distribution company of Cuban habanos endorsed by the Protected Denominations of Origin, classifying fully handmade habanos produced in the island, that weight more than 3 g, based on standards established by the habano industry and validated by the Regulating Council of Habano, including varieties of Cuban black tobacco grown in specific regions, 27 brands, 85 factory vitolas –factory size– 250 commercial vitolas and more than 350 references.
Going deeper in the living phenomena of tobacco plantations, the image of tobacco growers as starters and promoters of a long-standing agricultural tradition, the benefits in selecting the leaves and removing the veins, the work in the factories and the different stages of the process to the rolling, are considered essential elements by the Academy.
Also included in the program are the brands and vitolas, the Denominations of Origin and its specificities; as well as practical exercises, combinations and tests to determine the strength of the habanos, and topics regarding marketing, the authenticity of the product, storing and preservation of cases and all of their features established by Cuba.
Because of the strategic meaning of its Master course, the Academy pays special attention to the image of Habanos, the brands’ protection and the defense of its value as a traditional economic resource, all of which are essential elements to take into account by all those involved in the commercialization of the product.
The World of Habano is the , a book offering thorough and updated information on the topic ---edited by the Regulating Council of the Protected Denomination of Origin Habanos and other Cuban Tobacco Companies-, is the guide of Habanos Academy. It is expected to be translated into all the languages in the company’s world market and the first copies will start being distributed in 2012.
The Regulating Council of the Protected Denomination of Origin groups all the organizations involved in the habano production norms in Cuba, from the plantations to the manufacturing of habano boxes. It is also in charge of handling all legal matters related with the denominations of origin of the Cuban habano recognized by the 1958 Lisbon Agreement applied to the production and commercialization of Cuban habanos worldwide. It includes: Tabacuba, the National Association of Small Farmers, Tobaco Stockpiling and Benefits (Acopio and Beneficio del Tabaco) Enterprise, and the Institute of Tobacco Research (including the National Tasting Commission, Cubatabaco and Habanos S.A.).