March 29, 2021
The month-long campaign is almost here. Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski asks key industry leaders and manufacturers for their insight ahead of the campaign
For vape manufacturers and retailers (not to mention consumers), VApril is about much more than a marketing opportunity. Scratch the surface of many in the vape industry and there is an almost evangelical enthusiasm for using vape as a means to finally get the UK off combustible cigarettes for good.
“From the very beginning VApril has been about sharing the transformational potential of vaping, as well as telling the inspirational stories from our industry,” says John Dunne, director general at the UKVIA says. “Making positive change is what motivates so much of the British vaping industry, and VApril is the best time to take this change to consumers.”
For this reason, the UKVIA’s VApril campaign encourages engagement from all parties, with marketing and communication assets available to anyone who signs up online.
“Participating in VApril is a way to show that you care about the vaping sector and what it stands for, as well as the thousands of people who use it to stop smoking each year,” Dunne says. “Of course, the ongoing pandemic means that we have to do things a little differently again this year, but the industry’s adaptability makes that possible. Online and across social media we’ll be reaching out to share information, encouragement and all the best that British vaping has to offer.”
One-stop-shop vape businesses, which provide ranging, merchandising and display options for convenience stores, are particularly well placed to capitalise on the VApril opportunity.
So, how does Lucas Bartram – who heads the VapeStation brand for Real Trading Ltd – believe stores should be investing in the VApril campaign in 2021?
“C-stores should now be looking at category management solutions rather than individual brands. This ticks all the boxes in terms of display solution, range of products included and offers and promotions at key times of the year such as VApril and Stoptober.”
Bartram adds that one trend stores should focus on is podmods, which he describes as “simple and convenient devices that are an easy starter kit for any new vapers”.
He also advises stores to make sure they have dedicated enough space for vape: “Although the products themselves are relatively small in size, having a big enough range of brands, flavours and strengths is imperative”.
Another brand which is embracing this opportunity is RELX, one of Asia’s biggest vape manufacturers which made big strides into the UK market in 2020.
“VApril represents a great opportunity for retailers to leverage on the category awareness generated by the campaign, while ensuring they have the right ranging and tools to support adult smokers that want to make the switch,” says RELX’s, senior trade marketing manager, Micaela Sangiovanni.
To support the trade, RELX has invested in-depth support for businesses operating in the UK’s two biggest cities. “We have a dedicated team of sales representatives that serve stores across London and Birmingham,” says Sangiovanni. “They work together with retailers supporting them in anything that they need and providing different tools, sell-in deals, as well as premium point of sales materials to enhance the visibility of the product.”
Vape firm Nzo, meanwhile, offers stores some handy tips on ensuring your vape category is ‘match fit’ ahead of VApril.
“Flavour choice is a high priority when consumers are looking to switch. Retailers need to be aware that flavour choice is a high priority when consumers are looking to switch from cigarettes. Stores should be looking to stock a brand that has a breadth of flavour choice for the consumer. This supports Nzo vape’s ambition to help retailers develop into other category solutions under one high margin brand,” a spokesperson for the firm says.
Offering a range of nicotine strength variations is also important for educating those consumers looking at vape as a path to become 100% nicotine free, the firm says.
“Vape customers also follow brands, the brands like Pukka Juice, Zeus Juice and Pacha Mama have become household names and their partnership with Nzo which prides itself on bridging the gap for smokers and vapers alike, and is collaborating with leading e-liquids brands to bring consumers a selection of premium liquids flavours across two strengths,” the company added.
In a declining tobacco category, retailers need to support consumers’ change in buying habits by investing in brands that are in demand and offer a higher margin.
While improving the health of Britain’s smokers is at the heart of VApril, improving the health of the industry post-COVID is also at he forefront of many minds this year.
“It’s no secret that every industry has endured a difficult 12 months, and that pessimism and uncertainty are still a part of the business climate. If anything, that makes me even more excited about VApril 2021, because it really showcases the enthusiasm of the sector,” says Dunne.
“When [specialist] bricks and mortar stores were open we saw vaping entrepreneurs going to great lengths to keep customers Covid-secure, and as several lockdowns descended many pulled out all the stops to keep people supplied online and remotely. Me mustn’t forget that those people quitting cigarettes in this time have also been under immense pressure, and the vaping industry has been a real lifeline,” Dunne adds. “Most of all, VApril this year is a chance to say that British vaping is open for business, and stands ready to welcome consumers back in person when deemed safe to do so. I personally can’t wait to be meeting with people again, and sharing the message of this great industry.”
The benefits to public health and vape profits from VApril help explain why so much of the industry is uniting behind the campaign. And, this year, John Dunne hopes that the UK’s vape retailers will pull their weight behind the campaign too:
“If these are the issues that matter to you, and you want to be at the forefront of this positive change, I hope you’ll consider adding your voice to ours at the UKVIA.”
How to capitalise on VApril in your store this year
Hit the ground running on 1 April
There is still almost a week to go until the arrival of VApril and this is more than enough time to create a strategy for success during the month ahead.
Spend time building the right display
Communicating your VApril promotions and range can be much easier when it’s supported by a great display, particularly in an era of mask wearing and social distancing.
Offer a broad range of flavours and strengths
The industry is united in seeing flavours as a key way to encourage smokers to transition to smokers. Ensure you have a compelling range during VApril and beyond.
Ask how your brand partners can help out
Seek out help from your suppliers. Most will have advice and display materials to make your in-store VApril offer both professionalised and profitable.
Ensure your staff are ready for new customers’ questions
With no vape shops until at least 12 April, local shops have an opportunity to provide advice and insight to wary smokers if their staff are ready for the challenge.