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Editorial: Our mission for 2021 is clear

December 3, 2020

High street stores need to be ready to compete with nearby vape stores and multiples. (Credit: John Thorne)

As the retail world splutters back to life, there is a lot of hard work to be done if this category is to fulfil its potential in 2021, says Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski

The vape category has not been immune to the stresses and strains put upon the global economy by COVID-19. As the poor final year results from Imperial tobacco show, the impact of lockdowns and store closures across every continent has had a tangible impact on sales and profits.

The unique pressures of 2020 came straight after the scandal-that-wasn’t-a-scandal of EVALI in 2019, where reports of lung injuries caused by illegal vape products rocked consumer faith in the legitimate industry.

This is a tragedy, not just for the many independent retailers and suppliers who have grown to depend on this market, but also for millions of smokers who are yet to transition to something better – whether that’s vape, heat-not-burn or nicotine pouches.

So, what needs to change in 2021?

Firstly, every section of the vape industry needs to prioritise rebuilding trust in next generation products. This means sharing the scientific data that backs the transition away from combustible tobacco. It also means that retailers and their staff are up-to-date with product knowledge to answer any doubtful customer’s queries.

Secondly, the industry needs to come together, sharing best practice and insights. For stores this might mean working with a firm such as Vape Station or Aquavape on a display solution or working more closely with reps from the major tobacco companies as they, too, put more effort into switching customers to their next generation products.

Thirdly, stores must capitalise on market innovations. There have been product launches in 2020 – even in the heart of lockdowns – that have pushed the envelope of this category, providing new and better experiences for smokers who wish to transition. Stores need to stock them.

Finally, however, we all need to be ready to make 2021 a year of record-breaking quitting, particularly for those smokers who have relapsed during the stress and uncertainty of 2020.

At Vape Business we’re ready to help you through the challenges ahead.