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Category guide: Get your vape range right

February 22, 2021


Having a great range is one of the most important steps to success in the vape market. Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski reports

For many stores, the past year has been a simple matter of getting products on shelf as quickly and safely as possible. Now, as things slowly return to normality, it is the perfect time for a range review. Nowhere is this more necessary than in the fast-moving, ever-evolving vape market.

A substantial part of many stores’ ranges will be focused on the capsules market, an area of the market which recent data suggests is worth £340m to UK retailers.

Duncan Cunningham, corporate affairs director at Imperial Tobacco and Blu advises: “Stock at least one open and one closed system from a big brand like Blu. Support your range of devices with a strong portfolio of e-liquids, especially fruit flavours, in a variety of nicotine strengths, including nicsalts like Myblu Intense, to cater for all tastes.”

Brands are gaining increased recognition among consumers, which makes communicating your range vital. Cunningham says this is an area where manufacturers are more than happy to step in and support retailers: “You can display, advertise and promote vaping products in store. Dynamic displays, eye-catching PoS and countertop display units will help drive visibility and grab the attention of shoppers as soon as they walk through your door.”

As brands become more established – and distribution becomes wider – stocking the right brand can be crucial to gaining repeat custom. BAT’s Vype brand, for example, has been recognised as a ‘Product of the Year’ in both 2019 and 2020, meaning the award’s red award kitemark appears on the Vype ePod and ePen 3 ranges. It’s an addition which the award organisers say can lead to a 10 to 15 percent jump in sales.

Other names which have emerged during the past month including RELX, a giant of the vaping world in Asia that has sought a position as a premium vape option in the UK market. Its RELX Infinity and RELX Essential devices offer a patented ‘Super Smooth’ vape experience.

There are very few drawbacks to transitioning to vape, yet the sheer convenience of being able to walk into a convenience store and buy a packet of cigarettes on a night out – with no need to charge a device ahead of time – is one challenge that the vape market faces in helping those who have quit to stay away from combustible tobacco.

Credit: Vape Dinner Lady

One solution is the re-emergence of disposable devices. Leading the charge is Dinner Lady vape, which launched a new disposable vape device earlier this year in a full range of 13 flavours.

John Taylor, chief marketing officer at Vape Dinner Lady says: “Retailers are increasingly spotting the opportunities that products like the Dinner Lady disposable Vape Pen hold, as they’re simple to stock and simple to sell. And consumers are learning more about them too – how they can support smokers who want to make the transition to vape, or how they can be a brilliantly simple back-up device for established vapers or as an affordable way to try new flavours.”

That vape manufacturers are developing products and sales strategies to help lower the barriers for smokers to transition away from tobacco is about more than enlightened self-interest – for many brands it represents a core part of their mission.

“Juul Labs and the vaping category exist to help end the era of combustible cigarettes. Providing entry points to vaping at the place where smokers purchase their cigarettes is a key requirement in helping smokers transition away from cigarettes,” says John Patterson, sales director for Juul Labs.

Credit: JUUL Labs

The firm has recently adjusted its pricing strategy to reflect this goal, Patterson adds: “The JUUL Starter Kit is now available through wholesale in a £19.99 pricemarked pack option – representing a saving of £10 on the RRP – in addition to a non-PMP variant. By offering a more accessible entry point, we hope to offer more adult smokers further alternatives to combustible cigarettes and more options to transition away from tobacco.”

A large portion of the category is still based on more-traditional e-liquid brands and devices. Nick Geens, head of Logic and reduced-risk products at JTI says this is an area that should not be overlooked:

“Alongside closed tank devices, retailers should consider open tank devices. They are used by the majority of vapers and allow for a more customisable experience as you can manually fill the device with a preferred e-liquid. These are ideal for more experienced vapers, so stocking both type of devices, will offer a range for customers to choose from.”

That JTI has invested in this sector simultaneously to major innovations such as Ploom highlights that it continues to play an essential role in this category as a whole. “Logic EPIQ was expanded earlier this year to include both nicotine salts and High VG 70/30 e-liquids, with the nicotine salt range (18mg/ml) including Peppermint and Berry Mint flavours, and the High VG 70/30 liquids (3mg/ml) available in Mint Royale,” says Geens.

The range comes with an RRP of £2.99.

Alongside brands by major manufacturers such as JTI, the e-liquid market has been a rich engine of innovation among a spectrum of emerging brands.

Established in 2012, Vampire Vape offers a core range of 12 flavours. It is stocked in over 90 percent of independent vape stores and an extensive range of leading convenience, forecourt and retail outlets.

Credit: Flavour Warehouse

Among the Vampire Vape range is one flavour that has become particularly popular, the company says. The “cool, fruity and refreshing” Heisenberg is the firm’s bestseller.

Discussing the firm’s success in establishing a market position, Luke Van Dijk – sales director of brand owner Flavour Warehouse says: “Vampire Vape maintains significant geographical reach and remains the preferred choice of many within the vaping community and, where listed, we always outperform the space and are happy to share these case studies with new and existing customers as a category leader to help maximise this growing and profitable category instore”.

Vampire Vape is just one of many examples of how a little research and trial and error can ensure your business builds a range filled with both variety and proven bestsellers.

Are you ready to start your next vape range review?

How to build a great in-store vape range

Make sure you stock every sub-sector

From traditional e-liquids to capsules and disposables, the vape market is now a wide and varied category and, to ensure your meeting the needs of different consumers it is worth stocking at least one brand per segment.

Seek out mainstream brands

Names with brand recognition and a high level of support behind them offer vital benefits for those retailers who may worry about the level investment needed to stock a vape range for the first time.

Don’t miss independent winners

As a new category, the vape market continues to be defined by innovation. This has led to the emergence of a number of independent brands and products with a large following.

Take advantage of lockdown

At the moment, all branded stores and vape shops are shuttered. It means that there is now a rare opportunity to become the retailer of choice for vape customers by stocking the right range.

If in doubt, ask your shoppers

Whether you want to ensure you stock the right entry-level device for those transitioning away from tobacco or are looking to cater to the needs of expert vapers, your shoppers’ feedback will be essential in perfecting your range.