Home     Trade Shows     Advertising     Subscribe     Archives     Search     Tobacco International

Quarter 1, 2009

Rolling from Germany
to the World

Staff Report

A conversation with Piotr Grzywinski, Export Manager in charge of International Sales for Gizeh Rolling Papers.

While the name “Gizeh” may be reminiscent for many of the Great Pyramids of Egypt (sometimes spelled in English as “Gizah”), for RYO connoisseurs in Europe and around the world, it is synonymous with one of the longest-running rolling paper institutions. With possible economic turmoil facing the world for the foreseeable future, one bright spot may very well be Roll-Your-Own (RYO) and Make-Your-Own (MYO) cigarettes, which offer a more affordable tobacco alternative. We speak with GIZEH’s Export Manager, Piotr Grzywinski about the current state of the RYO and MYO market, and what possibilities the future may hold.

TPI: Can you give a brief history of GIZEH?

Piotr Grzywinski: GIZEH was founded in 1920 in the city of Cologne, Germany. The first product, GIZEH rolling papers, quickly became very popular. In 1935, growing demand led to an expansion of both,the company and the product  portfolio with the addition of filter tubes. During the Second World War in 1944 and because of the vast destruction of Cologne the company moved to the nearby city of Bergneustadt. In the years to follow the company grew steadily. Other production sites in Austria and in France were built. In 1992 GIZEH was restructured and the production divided between France (filter tubes) and Austria (rolling paper). In 1997 the company was taken over by Dutch Mignot & de Block Group. Various huge investments were made, such as the new GIZEH headquarter in Gummersbach in 2001.

TPI: Which countries are your most popular markets for RYO and for MYO?

PG: RYO and MYO markets are strongly affected by “smoking mentality” on one hand and state regulation on the other. The combination of both factors makes it a very dynamic sector, where strong markets emerge and others shrink. Among the markets where RYO/MYO is most popular today are Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France, England, and Poland.

TPI: Why do you think RYO tobacco products are so popular in markets such as the Netherlands and Belgium? Do you think there is room for more wide acceptance in other markets?

PG: With RYO/MYO you can differentiate “traditional” and new markets. Netherlands and Belgium, but France and Germany as well, have a long tradition of rolling cigarettes. In these countries it is not only saving money that since many decades is driving people to RYO/MYO, but the individual, pure and fresh taste of self-made cigarettes. More and more people in new markets share that view and thus contribute to the growth of the sector.

TPI: Which demographics (age, sex, income) does GIZEH appeal to?

PG: For GIZEH RYO/MYO is about “customizing” your smoke. You chose the rolling paper or filter tube you like and add the tobacco you prefer. While many people turn to RYO/MYO for economic reasons and only then discover other advantages of a self-made smoke, many others appreciate the individual taste from the start. Therefore there is actually no stereotype for a RYO/MYO smoker. Among our consumers there are all social and demographic groups.

TPI: Who are your consumers for MYO as opposed to RYO?

PG: You might say that among MYO consumers there are more cost conscious users while RYO consumers care even more for the unique taste while more intensively enjoying a self-rolled cigarette.

TPI: Do you think a world-wide economic turndown can benefit your company so people as people move away from cigarettes to a cheaper tobacco alternative?

PG: While it is natural to look for money saving alternatives when times get hard, we certainly do not wish for a world-wide recession so we can profit from the turndown. In times of harsh smoking bans and growing excise taxes for tobacco we try our best to enable our customers to continue enjoying an individual smoke and good quality.

TPI: In what type of outlets does GIZEH sell best - through tobacco specialty shops or corner shops?

PG: In general we try to place our products in every distribution channel. However, sometimes the turnover per POS depends on the market: while in “traditional” markets consumers very often have an extensive product knowledge and buy their favorite RYO/MYO products basically wherever they can, in emerging or growing markets there is more need for actively informing the consumer, which is done best in tobacco specialty shops.

TPI: Given the limitations of marketing for tobacco-related products, how have you gone about promoting GIZEH in advertising and Point-of-Sale marketing?

PG: In times of tough marketing restrictions the product packaging in combination with focusing on the consumer´s needs works best for us. The product packaging itself being a direct means of communication to the consumer, we give our best to be inventive with new products and creative with the existing ones.

TPI: What markets are you looking to expand to?

PG: Everywhere where our products are not offered yet.

TPI: What percentage of GIZEH’s business is private label vs. your won brands?

PG: Although we produce private labels as well, our main strategy is to expand the market shares of our own brands. Therefore we keep the percentage of private label production relatively low, but are open for strategic synergies.

TPI: What kind of variations are you working on now in regards to flavor, color, hemp papers, etc.?

PG: Due to our product strategy, GIZEH does not offer any flavored rolling papers. However, for the ecologically-oriented consumer we offer hemp products as well. Additionally, we are currently the sole producer of regular-sized Extra Slim rolling paper.

TPI: Any new products coming up?

PG: Currently we are working on various exciting projects, but let yourself be surprised.

For more information: www.gizeh-online.de

Tobacco Products International - Quarter 1, 2009
Tobacco Products International is published by Lockwood Publications, Inc., 26 Broadway, Floor 9M, New York, NY 10004 U.S.A., Tel: (212) 391-2060. Fax: (1)(212) 827-0945. Printed in the U.S.A.. HTML production and Copyright © 2000 - 2009 by Keys Technologies and Tobacco Products International Magazine. All rights reserved.