Vape vaping generic
Why people want to give up smoking

Convenience retailers are increasingly hearing from customers who are frustrated by the price of cigarettes and looking for cheaper alternatives.

Price is not the only reason people want to make the journey from cigarettes to vaping however, with vaping widely recognised as a healthier alternative. Public Health England has stated that electronic cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking and Cancer Research UK supports vaping in the fight against smoke-related disease.

Why should I invest in vaping?

Vaping has reportedly increased by 22% in value sales and the heated tobacco market also rose 270% last year, according to Nick Geens, head of logic and reduced risk products at JTI.

Duncan Cunningham, UK corporate affairs director at Imperial Tobacco and Blu, says the vape category is currently worth around £1bn in the UK, with around 30% of sales taking place in traditional retail stores.

The fact that experienced retailers such as Amrit Singh and Avtar ‘Sid’ Sidhu have introduced their own vape stores inside their shops, shows there is margin and consumer loyalty to be gained if you offer the right range and price to customers.

Due to the increase in vaping demand over lockdown, Londis retailer Atul Sodha has also doubled the size of his vaping products, increasing his display to a 1.2m back-lit bay.

St Johns Budgens, Kenilworth
Get your strategy sorted

Nisa Local High Heath’s of Amrit Singh has a mapped out journey he takes customers on, when he knows they are ready to give vaping a go. Singh says instead of selling them a £45 vape pen they may not like, he looks to encourage customers to start with disposables to test out if they like vaping.

“It is about the journey and building up loyalty,” says Singh. “The customers know that we are there for them along the way so rather than losing a one-off big sale, we get more respect from the customers, and if they go through the process, they end up buying four products instead of one.”

Vape Vaping store One Stop mount road
One Stop Mount Nod, Coventry
Amrit Singh’s vaping journey strategy
  • Singh first encourages customers to spend £5-10 on a disposable vape. This allows customers to try out the product and those used to smoking can start off with a high nicotine option. 
  • Next step, Singh will encourage customers to move onto a closed system which uses pre-filled pods. Blu and Logic are two of many brands that provide this option.
  • Then he will recommend customers move onto an open system, where customers can fill up the pods with juice themselves. This can save them money in the long term.
  • Finally, he will move customers onto a pen or tank that can handle thicker juices, for when customers are cutting down their nicotine. They will then stay on this device until they quit.
Vape Vaping gantry
One Stop Mount Nod, Coventry
Alternative strategies

Not all retailers have the same strategy as Singh. Although Trinity Food & Wine owner Agnelo Desousa does sell disposables, his tactic is to suggest an Envy refillable pod system to customers because they are easy to use and avoid the hassle of filling up at home. The Envy starter kit comes with a liquid and has £21.99 and £29.99 options.

“Envy is one of the cheapest on the market at the moment and widely available everywhere,” says Desousa. “It makes it easy for customers to come back for the pods and any other accessories they need, such as a spare tank. Customers are more hesitant to buy other types of products.” Desousa does not encourage customers to trade up to open tanks because he says many customers are happy with the closed systems.

Amit Puntambekar, from Ash’s Shop in Fenstanton, Carmbridgeshire, also encourages customers to start off with a closed pod solution, and the option he has available is Liberty Flights Dot Pro kit. “For people who want to quit smoking, I don’t think they are interested in the tank solution straight away,” says Puntambekar.

Scottish retailers warned about illicit nicotine vaping products on the market

In order to help people on their journey, we offer a few puffs on the kit with a protective mouth piece. We will give them a trial with one of the best flavours. We achieve 40% of our vape sales selling the Dot kit in this way.”

Puntambekar has been surprised at how reluctant customers can be about spending £10 on a starter kit when they are already spending £30-£40 on cigarettes each week. This is why he feels it is so important to break down the product to them, give them a trial and go through any concerns they have.

With Aquavape open system tanks ranging from £24.99 to £85 in his store, he says the transition up to this level is up to the individual. “I don’t push these devices as they are most costly and often need more maintenance,” says Puntambekar. “They are good for customers who are burning through liquid quicker and those who want to experiment with different vaping options.”

Vape Vaping Budgens Kenilworth
Avtar ‘Sid’ Sidhu of St Johns Budgens in Kenilworth
Retailer viewpoint

Amrit Singh, Nisa Local High Heath

“Traditional convenience store customers spend around £10 or so in store, so spending over that on one device is a big deal to them. If customers go to a specialist vape store they are more mentally prepared to part with more money. That is why it is important to gradually build up trust and guide customers through the process, starting with a more affordable option.

“It would create a lot of bad faith if you sold an expensive vape pen to someone, and it doesn’t work out. We might build up to selling a vape pen, and brands Smok, Innokin and VooPoo all have devices that go through the different stages, but we want customers to know we are in this for the long term and can support them each step of the way.”

Why people want to give up smoking

Convenience retailers are increasingly hearing from customers who are frustrated by the price of cigarettes and looking for cheaper alternatives.

Price is not the only reason people want to make the journey from cigarettes to vaping however, with vaping widely recognised as a healthier alternative. Public Health England has stated that electronic cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking and Cancer Research UK supports vaping in the fight against smoke-related disease.

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