In focus / Nov 19, 2018

Ten years working in the premium cigar category, VP of Marketing for General Cigar Co. Chris Tarr enjoys challenging the status quo with innovative solutions.

Having begun his marketing career with an American brewing company, Tarr was able to draw parallels from his years of experience and apply his unique sensibility on consumer engagement.

“Given my background in the liquor industry, I was drawn to the similarities between the cigar and liquor categories. The cigar business takes engagement to a very deep level and is built on relationships. Being able to connect with such a passionate base of consumers drew me in a decade ago and continues to drive me to this day.”

When he embarked on his journey with General Cigar in 2008 as a regional sales manager, Tarr was responsible for 16 states and developed firsthand knowledge of retailer and consumer preferences, along with a deep appreciation for the unique nature of the tobacco industry.

“Having worked in the company for nearly a decade, I gained expertise in sales leadership, interacting with retailers and consumers in cigar shops and at events, so I have a lot of insight into what works at retail for consumers and retailers, and what makes cigar smokers tick.”

Tarr is inspired by his peers and the knowledge sharing across the Group, and relishes the opportunity to lead a winning organisation.

“One of the things that makes General Cigar special is that people at all levels of the organisation are eager to share their knowledge. From our CEO Niels Frederiksen, I’ve learned that it’s up to us as the category leader to ensure the category is well-positioned for the future, and this is a responsibility that I have personally taken to heart. From our Master Blender Jhonys Diaz, I have come to understand the passion that goes into each and every cigar we make. General Cigar’s VP Field Sales Gene Richter has had the most influence on my career, having taught me the nuances of the category and explained the intricacies of managing relationships with retailers as well as consumers, as well as shown me how to be a strong leader. Speaking of strong leaders, President of General Cigar Régis Broersma has influenced a shift in my mindset. I am very driven and determined. In working with Régis, I’ve learned how to balance my inherent desire to win by taking time to have fun with my team.”

Originally from Texas, Tarr moved around the United States and also lived abroad in England and Saudi Arabia to further his studies and experience different cultures. Being a true Texan at heart, he returned to the southern state to lead the marketing organisation in May 2018. Tarr now oversees General Cigar’s brand marketing, innovation, PR, social media and event platforms, including the brand ambassador team, and is driven by innovation.

“Innovation used to mean new tobaccos and new blends, [but] the current landscape has changed, and the playing field is tougher. I’m empowering my team to take calculated risks and respond to these changes with creative solutions to grow our business and our brands. We’re in the preliminary stages of enhancing our digital presence and leveraging those platforms to drive traffic to our brick and mortars where they can experience a moment of smoking enjoyment. Creativity is a driver for me and as a marketer, it’s a very exciting time to be in the premium cigar category.”

 

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