March 29, 2023
The UK’s largest national campaign to promote the benefits of switching from smoking to vaping, VApril has already established itself as the largest such campaign worldwide. According to a 2019 One Poll survey ,72 per cent of those who were aware of the month-long campaign said it helped them to switch.
The campaign, first launched in 2018 by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) and is now rolled out across the world, runs during the month of April and typically includes various events, social media campaigns, and promotions aimed at encouraging smokers to try vapes and other smoke-free products.
Sitting at the heart of the communities, independent stores can play a significant role in furthering the mission of this campaign, which also provides for a great marketing opportunity of their vape category.
“Retailers must ensure they have sufficient stock levels of next-gen nicotine products available, particularly in-demand disposable devices, as Vapril presents retailers with a valuable opportunity to capitalise on increased demand and engage with existing adult smokers who are looking to make the switch,” comments Chris Aikens, external affairs Manager at Relx International.
“To take advantage of the influx of adult consumers who are looking to find the ‘next best thing’ in next-gen, retailers should stock a variety of devices across all price points, as well as a selection of flavours and brands.”
Aikens advises retailers to prioritise the promotion of easy-to-operate devices such as disposables and vape starter kits. “As Vapril is an educational calendar event, retailers should also research the campaign so that they are prepared to interact with customers in-store about the benefits of a smoke-free society,” he adds.
Retailers can make use of the VApril website, where they can find useful information to help consumers make informed choices. In addition, the UKVIA has made available several assets, which include social media graphics, branding, Start Vaping Stop Smoking guides and more, to help retailers promote the campaign. (Available to download here).
“In-store POS materials, along with neat and organised cabinets, will make the product range easier to navigate, subsequently maximising sales,” Aikens notes, adding that retailers must ensure that stock levels are sufficient to meet the influx of new consumers.
“Furthermore, pricing strategy is vital for retailers to stay ahead of competitors during Vapril and to win new customers,” he says.
“Multi-buy deals, such as two-for-£10 or three-for-£15 on disposable devices gives adult customers the opportunity to try new flavours and brands, whilst stocking up on their favourite products, which is especially relevant amid the cost-of-living crisis.”
Aikens also urges retailers to recognise the growing demand for ‘convenience’ amongst consumers, when preparing for Vapril.
“Disposable devices offer this convenience to users, with easy to operate devices that are premium in look and feel,” he says. “Disposable devices are also widely available in retail stores across the UK, and are predicted to continue as market leaders throughout Vapril this year.”
Throughout the month, the UKVIA will be sharing guidance across its social media channels to help smokers better understand the opportunities of making the switch to vaping. It will also share some of the stories from the millions of smokers who have already taken up vaping.
Last year, the VApril initiative involved a paid for social media campaign for the first time, which has featured Scotsman Bill talking about his life changing experience after transitioning from smoking to vaping; an animated expert guide highlighting how smokers can successfully switch from conventional to vapes successfully; and Dr Anita Sharma putting the record straight on common concerns that smokers have about vaping.
At the end of the campaign, the paid for promotions have generated over 100,000 views, with over 65s and women viewing the promotions the most. New users to the VApril website were up 70 per cent year on year whilst all users were up 66 per cent year on year.
Retailers can plan a social media campaign of their own, combining vaping awareness and sales promotions. This is especially crucial as vaping is once again being cornered by different quarters, and this would be an opportunity for retailers to advertise their role in reducing smoking rates and improving public health.
Promoting vape as smoking alternative
Measures retailers can take to promote vapes as a smoking alternative during VApril: