When it Comes to Vapor, Retailers Must Choose Wisely
When it Comes to Vapor, Retailers Must Choose Wisely – By Jacopo D’Alessandris, President & CEO, E-Alternative Solutions, LLC.
For retailers who offer electronic alternatives to cigarettes – known commonly as vaping products – navigating the vast range of brands, devices and accessories on the market can be challenging. In fact, vaping brands represent more than two-thirds of the 300+ exhibitors expected at the Tobacco Plus Expo. Add a volatile regulatory environment to that dynamic, and strategizing in this category can quickly become a risky (and potentially costly) challenge for even the most vigilant buyers.
But for merchants who wish to meet consumer demand while exercising ethical, compliant sales practices, the maturing of the vapor market is critical. It’s certainly a welcome development for our team at E-Alternative Solutions (EAS), an independent, family-owned provider of electronic alternative solutions dedicated to a world beyond smoking.
What are the most common challenges facing retailers when it comes to vapor? Where is the vapor category headed? What should retailers look for in a partner? These are just some of the questions fueling our work at EAS. As we look ahead to TPE19 and beyond, here are insights and advice for those considering (or reconsidering) their vapor strategy in light of the industry’s recent developments.
Keep It Simple.
Minimizing consumer confusion is critical when it comes to vapor. Shoppers are often unsure which product, nicotine level and brand they should use. To mitigate this challenge, give shoppers a simple, clear purchase funnel. The assortment should carefully correspond to demand, and it should not overwhelm with too many brands. Have the right mix of devices and nicotine choices that correspond to what consumers seek from the category.
Anticipate Consumer Demand.
What are consumers seeking from the category? In the past, adult smokers looking for an alternative often started with e-cigarettes and sometimes moved to more satisfying but cumbersome and difficult to use sub-ohm open systems, mostly sold in vape stores or online. Today better-performing closed-system alternatives have grown dramatically – marrying the convenience of a closed system with the satisfaction of an open one.
To meet this evolution of demand, retailers should carry brands that offer both tobacco and non-tobacco flavors – especially mints and menthols. We ran a survey on 2,500 Cue® users, and our research shows that adult smokers also turn to vapor products as a means of reducing or ending their exposure to smoking – and that they are more successful in doing so when non-tobacco flavors are used. So it’s important to offer the right variety to attract adult customers.
Choose Smart, Informed and Ethical Partners.
Choose providers who can anticipate future directions, and who will support you. Some will sell you a product and leave all of the work to you. Others, like EAS, bring an entire support system. We are focused not only selling in, but also helping our partners sell out.
EAS comes with category management expertise, shelf management, merchandising, compliance and promotional tools. We will work with you to put together the right education materials and in-store advertising to help move sales and make sure that your products comply with the latest Federal and state regulations.
Not only do we vigilantly adhere to those regulations, we go even further. We understand that it’s our responsibility to help our partners adhere to the latest Federal and state regulations, and we’re dedicated to our vision for a world beyond smoking, so EAS has undertaken a leading role in the creation of sensible vapor industry standards and regulations – helping to develop the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) marketing standards for membership.
We know where the category is headed and are actively helping shape that future to position ourselves, our partners and the entire industry for sustained, ethical growth – and to ensure adult smokers continue to have alternatives they can trust without compromise.
As the market matures – through the adoption of closed system sub-ohm, nicotine salts and zero-nicotine options – and prepares itself for even more regulatory reform, how are you positioned for success in the vapor category?