The vape market in convenience stores is experiencing significant growth, and due to the ease of use and portability, disposable vapes are popular among seasoned vapers and newcomers looking for a convenient option.
The convenience factor, coupled with a wide range of flavours and strengths, has significantly boosted its popularity and demand.
The disposable vapes market has seen remarkable increase from £141m in 2021 to £973m in 2022, and in order to cater for this growing demand, manufacturers are jumping into the market with their offerings.
How retailers are managing sales
Jeet Bansi, owner of Meon Vale Londis in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, says the disposable vapes segment is an important one for his store.
“As retailers, we have to take these opportunities when they come up,” Bansi says. “I think the customer perception or expectation is that when they go into a store, especially convenience stores, they expect to see a vape offering, whether it’s ElfBar, Crystal Bar or Lost Mary.
“There’s a perception that it’s better for them than smoking a packet of cigarettes because they’re not spending as much money, and they can chop and change the flavours as well.”
Cambridge retailer Ronak Patel, who operates Budgens and Nisa stores in the city, says that in his Budgens store, 40% of nicotine sales are disposable vapes, while in his Nisa store, 60% of category sales are disposable vapes.
“My smaller store does a lot better with vapes and I think that’s because we’ve got a reputation and a two-metre gantry soon as you walk in. Our availability is always on point, and we merchandise it every two or three months to make sure we know what’s new on the market, educating ourselves as well as customers. If disposables continue to do well, we’re going to give more space to them.”
Ken Singh, owner of BB Superstore in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, says: “Vapes account for 15%-20% of the total nicotine category now and it’s increasing; we had a 100% increase year-on-year.
“I think it’s a trend that’s scaring the traditional tobacco industry. If I have another 100% increase this year, disposable vape sales will represent 30%-40% of the total nicotine category.”
What suppliers have noticed
Benedict Jones, UK branding manager at Innokin, says: “Fruit, menthol and iced fruit flavours continue to be the most popular offerings in entry level devices, however a minority of older customers tends to prefer tobacco and simple dessert flavours such as vanilla.
“There is a seasonal element to this, also. We can expect an uptick in menthol and iced fruit flavour sales during the warmer months,” he explains.
Duncan Cunningham, external affairs director at Philip Morris Limited, says: “Disposable devices are affordable, discreet, and portable – requiring no tinkering and offer a wide flavour range, which makes them highly accessible to existing adult nicotine users.
“If a reusable smoke-free device breaks, loses charge or is lost or forgotten, disposables offer an immediate, convenient, and cost-effective solution that reduces the risk someone may revert to combustible tobacco products for nicotine.”
Tom Gully, head of consumer marketing UK & Ireland at Imperial Tobacco, says while most promotions and offers are usually some form of multibuy deal, which can be effective in driving volume sales and encouraging consumers to try out different flavours, some retailers and their customers may prefer everyday low pricing.
“We’ve seen many retailers focus on reducing the selling price of an individual device, but we’d highly recommend trialling a mix of these options to understand which approach works best for each individual store.”