islamabad – In an upscale departmental store located in Super Market, Chinese customers are often found sifting through two racks of Chinese manufactured cigarettes. The brands are uncommon for the Pakistani market and locals don’t have a taste for these cigarettes either.

However, the Chinese smokers can only satiate their smoking habits by inhaling the brands which include YUXI, ZHONGHUA, ZHONGNANHAI, HAOMAO, SUYAN and others.

“Chinese customers prefer their national brand,” said Mohammad Rafique, the sales manager of the store.

The presence of Chinese citizens in sectors F-6 and F-7 is not an unusual thing for the business community of the area, since the neighbouring country has poured heavy investment in different sectors.

Along with familiarizing themselves with the local culture and food, the Chinese community has also adapted to the local shopping techniques. It prefers buying from small shops established in the narrow streets due to the discounted price of items.

Azeem Khan owns a small cigarette selling point in the centre of F-6 market and the access to his 4*6 measurement shop is a narrow street.

Mr. Azeem has showcased all local and international brands for the smokers and earns handsome amount with his only business.

However, sometimes in a day he has to move the glass railing displaying the known brands in the country, and show his customers the uncommon brand.

Both the customer and brands are Chinese.

The small businessman does not know the language of his customers but has understood their demand with a couple of years experience with them.

  “They do not ask for single or two packs, they always ask for a carton,” said Azeem.

He said that Chinese consumers rarely buy the local and international brands demanded by Pakistanis or other foreigners here.

“They have good purchasing power but, they search for specific shops to buy the cigarettes in large quantity,” Azeem said.

They will purchase a single pack from the super store but a complete carton from a little kiosk as it saves their money.

“Where a shopkeeper saves around 1000 for a carton, the Chinese customer saves around Rs.50 per pack,” he added.

 The superstore owner has the endorsing version with the kiosk owner as he claims the Chinese brands cigarette could not be said ‘remarkable’.

“The sale is average and customer though prefers Chinese brand but also purchases local also,” he said.

But, according to Rafique, local customer demands Chinese brand cigarette very rarely because they are expensive. The price of Chinese brand starts from Rs.250 and reaches to Rs350.

“The sale is normal around 3 to 5 Chinese cigarette brand our store sell daily, but the nearby shops sells cartons daily,” Rafique added.

Though, small business runners to earn profit from Chinese smoking customers do not want to discuss the supply chain of the brands. Some of them even don’t place it as their sale target only small community.

“Chinese cigarette brands are not only expensive but has limited customer, however, we can arrange the order given by the customer,” said another kiosk runner Mujtaba.

The businessmen were though reluctant to tell about the source from where these cartons are purchased and according to some of them Chinese bring their favorite brands along with them from their countries.     

According to Mujtaba, the cigarette brands containing pictorial warnings are imported through legal channels but many shopkeepers bring the Chinese cigarettes from ‘Raja Bazaar’ where they are stocked in a large quantity.  

But why are the Chinese cigarettes brands not popular in the local community? Mohammad Ali, a chain smoker who works in a private production house says that locals have not yet developed a taste for Chinese cigarettes.

“They were not available in loose form while were very expensive and one difference was the filter,” he said.

According to Ali, Chinese tobacco tastes good but does not have high purchasing power.

“Meanwhile, Chinese are also of a different nature as they do not share their cigarettes like Pakistanis do,” he said. 


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