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E-liquids and pods

March 25, 2024

Photo: iStock

An open system device gives a customisable vaping experience, and the e-liquid market in the UK is now at peak demand. The most frequent type of e-cigarette device remains a refillable tank system, with 50 per cent of current adult vapers reporting this type as their main device (ASH, August 2023).

In fact, this represented a 15 percentage point decrease from 2022, as disposable vapes grew in popularity, from 15 per cent users in 2022 to 31 per cent last year. However, the government’s decision to ban the sale of disposable vapes could mean e-liquids and vape pods, e-cigarettes with replaceable cartridges, which has a user base of 17 per cent in 2023, gaining more users.

Ideal for people looking to make the transition from smoking to vaping, pods particularly represent significant sales opportunity for retailers as a replacement for disposable vapes. In fact, major disposable vape manufacturers have already announced their new pod products.

Set for transition

Leading vape brand SKE has launched a new multiple pod system just days after the announcement of the government ban on single-use vapes, marking the market’s transition from disposable to reusable products.

The company, which ‘continuously monitors and anticipates potential legislative change’, said it realised it needed to take pre-emptive action and invest in a new vape solution for users when it became clear single-use devices could be outlawed.

It said it created the reusable pod system – SKE Crystal 4-in1 – to help former smokers avoid relapse by ensuring they had access to a compliant alternative in the event their chosen device was removed from market, as well as to ensure it could still help current smokers looking to move away from cigarettes.

“The vape sector’s success is based on its ability to disrupt and adapt. We are sure other brands will follow us in developing new products which can be used by adults – especially displaced disposable users – who are looking to quit and stay off cigarettes,” a spokesperson for SKE said.

“As the landscape of our sector changes and a major product category looks set to be banned, it is critical the industry collectively does all it can to maximise the stop smoking potential of vaping and to continue to support the government in the ambition to secure a smokefree future.”

SKE’s 4-in-1 system features a pod clip which can accommodate four different flavoured cartridges at the same time and a ‘spinning mechanism’ which allows users to transition between pods and instantly change the flavour in use.

Available in 16 flavours, the interchangeable pod design meets the demand for flavours amongst vapers and smokers as a key element to help them get off and stay off cigarettes.

“Flavours have been and continue to be instrumental to the quitting journeys of millions of adults. Research from One Poll revealed that 83 percent of vapers say flavours help them ‘pack in their smoking habit’,” the SKE spokesperson said.

“Each of the pods also contains up to 600 puffs, meaning fully loaded device can deliver as many as 2,400 puffs while remaining compliant with UK regulations. This increased capacity means customers can get a better value for money at a time when the UK is going through a cost-of-living crisis.”

The RRP of the 4-in-1 device is set at £12.99, while the estimated price of a 600-puff disposable is around £5, meaning the new pod system can deliver the same puff count as four single-use vapes at two thirds of the cost. This means that SKE’s new re-usable product can offer the same advantages as disposables when it comes to prices accessibility.

The device is powered by a robust 950mAh battery, which provides an extended usage time, significantly reducing the frequency of recharging. With each of the four pods holding 2ml of e-liquid, the total capacity ensures that vapers can enjoy prolonged vaping sessions without constant refills.

Lost Mary, a sister brand of leading disposable vape brand Elfbar, has also unveiled its first pod system, Tappo, in January.

The new closed-pod system lets vapers easily replace the e-liquid with prefilled pods when it’s finished, cutting down on waste and providing a more cost-effective alternative to single-use vapes.

With a powerful rechargeable 750 mAh battery, Tappo enables longer vaping sessions on a single charge and delivers a consistent and robust flavour experience akin to its single-use counterpart, thanks to the latest Quaq technology.

Aesthetically, Tappo retains the essence of Lost Mary’s pioneering and distinctive ergonomic design. Enhanced by a stainless aluminium shell, it has a high-end quality finish seldom seen in the vaping category.

In addition, Tappo features a smart indicator that uses three colours to display the battery level, allowing vapers to check the device status at a glance. The innovative design of the Quaq-enhanced cartridge also significantly reduces leakage by efficiently absorbing and storing e-liquid.

Tappo initially offers a choice of 15 pod flavours, tailored to suit individual preferences, with more flavour varieties and product colours in development.

It’s also compatible with all 35 Elfbar Elfa Pro and other Quaq-powered prefilled pods, providing an extensive range of options to suit all tastes.

Supreme PLC, e-liquids manufacturer and master distributor of Elfbar and Lost Mary in the UK, has said they have developed a comprehensive range of alternative vaping solutions to adapt to the forthcoming regulations.

“We already have some of these available to buy including Moja, Dot Pro, Elfa Pro, Tappo, Sky Hunter 2600, and our own 88vape POD is in production. Our move towards plain packaging and the renaming of flavours will further align our products with new government regulations,” the company said in a statement.

In anticipation of the regulatory changes, Supreme proactively announced modifications to its product packaging and flavour names in October.

These included an assessment of packaging across its entire 88vape range, from disposables to 10ml liquids, to ensure the use of colour is very limited (used only to differentiate one stock item from another) and the packaging is plain and uniform, along with simplified naming conventions of all flavours across the 88vape range.

Tech advancements

Vape solution providers have been launching new technological innovations to enhance the vaping experience of pods.

Featured in Tappo, Quaq’s new vape cartridge solution Capsule, unveiled in November, features instant coil saturation. When thrusting the bottom into the cartridge, the atomisation coil is fully saturated by e-liquid instantly, bringing the best possible vaping experience to users.

With patented structural and material innovations, Capsule addresses the pain points of thin vapour and inconsistent flavour in ceramic coils, whilst reducing the waiting time for flavour release in previous e-liquid coil separation structures.

Underpinned by the new patented material, which can absorb e-liquid much more efficiently, and a tailored air tunnel structure, Capsule prevents e-liquid leakage threefold, the company said.

Moreover, the Capsule solution incorporates a Mesh coil, which is highly porous, resulting in a better flow of e-liquid in the whole coil. This results in the release of a denser, finer vapour than found in ceramic coils and maximises mouthfeel smoothness.

Meanwhile, Vape brand Innokin is looking to redefine the structure of pod systems, namely Atomizer, Control and Battery (removable), with its Trine solution launched in January.

Innokin said this ‘3 in 1’ solution, featuring removable batteries for pod systems, would greatly improve the reusability of the battery. This extends the life cycle of devices far beyond that of an individual battery while enabling safe recycling.

Trine ensures safe battery disposal by integrating EcoDrain, a cutting-edge battery discharge technology, setting a new industry standard as an eco-safe solution for battery disposal. It specifically addresses the challenges associated with handling discarded batteries, ensuring safe battery discharge before recycling.

Innokin added that this technology minimises fire hazards and actively reduces the detrimental environmental impact caused by battery waste, promising a reliable solution for battery waste management within vape pods.

“The introduction of Trine signifies a significant step towards a greener vaping industry. We anticipate that these innovations will pave the way for extensive opportunities in product development, offering users a vastly improved experience,” Tao Cui, strategy director at Innokin, said.

Stay on top

The vape category is continually evolving, and retailers need to ensure they are staying on top of the current trends in e-liquids and pods so that they can revise their range to offer any products proving popular with customers.

“Making room for a small selection of new products will allow retailers to trial them first before they invest in adding these as a permanent part of their range,” suggests Yawer Rasool, consumer marketing director UK & Ireland at Imperial Tobacco.

Imperial launched its latest next generation vape, blu 2.0, last year with enhanced features, which included ceramic heating pod technology, a longer lasting battery, and bigger 1.9ml volume liquidpods.

Rasool also advises retailers to regularly review their main range to ensure it caters for their customers’ needs.

“For example, are there any particular vape flavours or devices that customers are buying frequently that would be worth investing in more stock or making them more visible in store? Having access to these types of insights, combined with customer feedback, will enable retailers to amend the range available on a frequent basis to ensure their range is still fit for purpose,” he notes.

According to the ITUK data, as of December 20223, fruity flavour profiles are the most popular among adult vapers, with Watermelon, Strawberry, Berry Lemonade and Blueberry Sour Razz being the top-selling vape flavours.

Rasool also stresses the need for training, for both retailers and their staff, to provide customers with a tailored and personalised experience, adding that this would build customer loyalty and ensure repeat visits to the store.

“We’d recommend retailers encourage their staff to keep on top of the latest industry trends, news and features in the trade media. This provides a great way for employees to achieve a deeper understanding into the current trends, terminology and any new product launches,” he says.

“With a significant amount of information available at their fingertips, retailers and their staff have the opportunity to increase their knowledge and expertise of the vaping categories.”

He also recommends their Ignite app for retailers and their employees to increase the knowledge of the vaping category, key trends, training opportunities, and, of course, blu products. The app offers a whole host of helpful tools and advice, including incentive articles, downloadable POS, product information and top tips on how to boost sales in store.