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Why go to a vape store when you have a c-store?

July 19, 2019


The panel discussion titled ‘Marketing – The View From 30k Feet’ at the first Vape Business Conference held on July 3, 2019 in London heard suppliers, makers and marketers explaining how vaping developed and how the sector got to here – and how to understand it: very much the “view from 30,000 feet” and very enlightening.

Dan Marchant, Co-Owner, Vape Club & Vape Base which launched in 2012 said: “Vape was a different beast back then: a cig-alike world until 2013 when the open system arose, a much better experience that began to attract smokers – and then the vape boom-time began.”

“But there was a learning curve in understanding these products, maintaining and using them properly,” he added.

Andrew Miller, Head of Next-Generation Product Sales, blu outlined how he saw the market now: “Nicotine consumers want nicotine and the real opportunity for the Convenience channel is in vaping.”

“Some people want open-tank systems but very many want something simple, plug and play, clip-in. And you don’t need much education for this. From where we are at blu we see that part of the market as the real opportunity and that’s where we as manufacturers can help you guys, the retailers,” he explained.

John Dunne, Director of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) and Managing Director of E-liquid Brands, said he had been in vaping for nine years and was the first to introduce category management into the sector. He also said that the vape market was more in favour of Convenience as part of a larger turn to vaping: “Because of the convenience factor. Vaping shops are in town centres, open from 10-6.”

Dan said that 60 per cent of people who had tried vaping are no longer vapers – because early e-cigs were so poor. But now that the technology has improved so much they are ripe for bringing back to vape.

John sees attitudes to vaping changing. “Pharmacists years back said vaping was a great product and they would love to be selling it, but that the World Health Organization was saying it should be banned!”

He said we are lucky that in this country that the government and health authorities are looking at vaping sensibly.

Matthew Boulton, Vape Specialist at Bestway Wholesale, said that they had moved a best-selling vape range at Bargain Booze over to the Bestway system around November 2018 and now stock all kinds of vape products, open and closed systems, which he finds consumers are taking up – making the point that vapers will increasingly use more than one product, perhaps pods at work and a tank relaxing at home. It’s a situation that implies varied marketing strategies. “As tobacco sales continue to fall, we want to make sure we have all the vape products that retailers need,” concluded Matt.

“If a customer comes into your shop for milk and a newspaper,” proposed Dan, “and you have a selection of vape products that they would normally buy at a vape store, why would they go to the vape store when they could just pick it up in your shop?”

Good question.

This article first appeared in the 19 July 2019 issue of Asian Trader magazine.