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Changing directions

November 25, 2022

Photo: iStock

Premium products in vape and next gen category is no longer about just exclusive or expensive…

Vapers tend to enjoy premium e-liquids and are more than willing to pay more for them because higher-quality ingredients lead to higher quality e-liquid and a better tasting product.

With the costs of living crisis brings the shopper need for “accessible luxury” into focus, premium products in the vape and next gen category offer retailers an opportunity to upsell a high margin product. Premium products in the category are moving from hassle-free and easy-to-use products to eco-friendly products.

“From the introduction of TPD regulations to the explosive growth of the disposable vape sector, the tectonic plates of the vaping world have shifted and it looks very different compared to just a few years ago. The next-gen and premium vape sector is no exception,” comments Luke McKenna, content marketing administrator at Eco Vape.

“Next-gen vaping is now shifting towards a more environmentally friendly focus, with new devices like hybrid disposables and vape pods entering the limelight, moving the industry towards reducing the amount of lithium ion batteries and reducing environmental waste.”

Going green

He notes that people are now willing to pay more for a product if it is better for the environment.

“Premium no longer just means exclusive or expensive. Premium now encompasses ethics and protecting the environment, which means product traceability and compliance, using less batteries and less product waste. Marketing your products with an environmental and ethical message is a great way to encourage customers to try new products,” McKenna says.

He cites their latest device, the BEAR + Aspire R1 and Vyko’s Paper Bar as examples. “[BEAR + Aspire R1] lasts up to 10 times longer than standard disposables, reducing the battery usage per customer by 90 per cent. Vyko’s Paper Bar is also better for the environment and uses this in its marketing, as it is made using recycled materials to lower the environmental impact of production on the environment,” he notes.

As a next gen hybrid disposable, the R1 has a 2ml tank, is refillable and comes with a separate 10ml bottle of UK made BEAR nic salt inside every box. The product is designed with the convenience channel in mind, McKenna says, offering more profit margin for stores whilst saving customers money – one £9.99 BEAR + Aspire R1 device lasts as long as £40 worth of disposables!

“Since it launched at the UK Vaper Expo in October, we’ve seen huge demand for the R1. We hope it will play its part in reducing the environmental impact of the vape sector, as well as supporting independent vape stores and retailers by increasing their margins and encouraging vapers to start buying traditional, UK made e-liquids,” he adds.

Photo: iStock

UK-made e-liquids and nic salts are also becoming a big attraction because of their environmental credentials, he adds.

“E-liquids made in the UK are better for the environment, as they have shorter supply chains, don’t require sea freight, and are closer to the end consumer. Promoting UK made e-liquids are a great place to start when marketing your premium products,” he suggests.

Make pouches work

Bruce Terry, portfolio brand manager at JTI UK, says the tobacco-free nicotine pouch category is the best next-gen product that is working for convenience stores.

Data from the IRI show that the category is growing at a phenomenal rate and is now worth £15.9 million a year in the convenience and independent channel.

“Perfect for ‘on-the-go’ lifestyles, we know these discrete pouches appeal to existing adult smokers and vapers who find themselves in situations where they cannot, or do not want to, smoke or vape – making them a must-stock for convenience retailers,” Terry notes.


JTI’s Nordic Spirit recently expanded its portfolio with the launch of a new flavour, Spearmint, and a new Extra-Strong nicotine concentration for Bergamot Wildberry. The new launches are both available as Extra-Strong to reflect the growing demand for stronger variants in the nicotine pouch category.

Terry tells retailers to give the category a clear “home” by displaying nicotine pouches on a back wall solution with heated tobacco and vaping devices, “so the customer has a visible choice of nicotine products based on their preferences.”

“For nicotine pouches, JTI offers POS category solutions to suit stores of all shapes and sizes that retailers can take advantage of to boost their pouch sales, including countertop display solutions,” he adds.

As well as stocking a full range of products, it is important that retailers always maintain good stock levels, so that customers always have choice available to them. “Retailers should also observe seasonal trends and busy periods, for example, keep your nicotine pouch range particularly strong in the summer months when demand is highest. In addition, clear signposting aids consumer navigation of the category,” he recommends.

It is also vital for retailers to offer a broad variety to their customers. Terry advises stocking a variety of strengths within the mint option in particular, as nicotine pouch users will likely move from regular to strong and extra-strong within this popular flavour.

“Retailers should also stock different variants within the higher strength segment, as this is likely to remain the most popular choice for customers,” he adds.

Hybrid benefits 

McKenna notes that hybrid disposables are quickly becoming the premium alternative to standard disposable vapes.

“They work out of the box, are designed for convenience, and are packed with flavour. What’s more, they offer both environmental and cost benefits to consumers and retailers,” he adds.

The product lasts many times longer, has greater profit margins, saves consumers money in the long term and encourages those customers to return to stores for refills.

He also highlights next-gen rechargeable vape pods, like the Elfa Pod Kit by Elf Bar, as another great option for convenience. They’re also better for the environment than standard disposables, as the customer can keep using the device and replace the prefilled pods separately.

“They offer a great profit margin for retailers on the device itself and also keep customers returning to stock up on refill pods, which are sold separately,” he points out.

Heating up

With the entry of JTI’s Ploom, the heated tobacco category in the UK is all set to witness a step change, as customers would now have more choices.

The category has been rapidly growing in popularity over the past few years and currently, it is worth £91 million in the UK traditional retail [IRI, MAT Jun 2022]. By 2025, it is estimated that the category will be worth £250 million, with 66 per cent of consumers buying through traditional retail.

“Building on our growing presence in the evolving heated tobacco category and responding to the needs of existing adult smokers and vapers, we have recently announced the launch of a new and enhanced device, Ploom X. Representing the next generation of heated tobacco, it offers existing adult smokers an alternative but familiar experience by heating tobacco instead of burning it, Mark McGuinness, marketing director at JTI UK, says.

Ploom X device

Thanks to significant technological upgrades, this smaller and more compact device has a more consistent nicotine delivery and an enhanced flavour sensation. It also has a longer session time of up to 5 minutes and the ability to use more EVO Tobacco Sticks per charge.

“This is just another step in the evolution of the Ploom brand, with improved technology that offers a truly unique experience for customers. We’re looking forward to providing retailers with the opportunity to capitalise on the market through this new and exciting product,” McGuinness adds.

Top Tips for Heated Tobacco

Gemma Bateson, Sales Director at JTI, shares tips to grow sales in the category:

  • The category is in growth as more and more existing adult smokers looking for an alternative but familiar tobacco experience in the form of heated tobacco products. Therefore, it is important that retailers always maintain good stock levels
  • We recommend that accredited retailers have demonstration devices available so that consumers can observe the simplicity of the device and feel fully informed before buying the product
  • Having up-to-date knowledge of the latest products and category updates is key to offering a good level of customer service. To confidently talk about the category and products available, retailers and their staff should use all the platforms available to them – including JTI’s trade website, www.JTIAdvance.co.uk