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Blog: CJ Lang boss Mike Leonard on the vape category and menthol ban

May 18, 2020

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Ahead of this week’s menthol ban CJ Lang’s sales director discusses the wholesaler’s approach to the vape category and the menthol ban in 2020.

Focus on vape has increased significantly over the past few years. From initially stocking a small number of e-cigarette brands several years ago, when the category was in its infancy, C J Lang now stocks a comprehensive range of vape brands across several key suppliers within the category.

The range has evolved driven by new technology and innovation and comprises a wide assortment of PODs and e-liquids of different flavours and strengths. Our emphasis has been on stocking top-selling brands which our customers know well, are keen to purchase, and which offer the right balance between quality and value for money.

The two biggest challenges retailers are: the limited space they have from which to display the category effectively and the increasing knowledge they need of what remains a very dynamic and fast-moving category.

In collaboration with partner suppliers, we have worked to provide display solutions for retailers such as counter display units, back wall solutions or free-standing display units.

Information aimed at educating retailers and improving their ability to engage with consumers is also provided. Both of the above are provided through ongoing supplier store visits and attendance at annual tradeshows.

Guidance can also be given via our store development and field sales teams.

Menthol cigarettes account for approximately 20 percent of all cigarettes sales within the Scottish market and SPAR Scotland.

I expect consumers to remain within the tobacco/vape category when the ban takes place, whether they switch to non-menthol cigarette brands or move across to menthol vape brands or cigarillos, for example, where menthol products will continue to be available.

It is too early to predict what the long-term effect will be on the category, but short term, switching to other smoking categories may improve profitability for stores.