RN How has the market changed in the past year and what can we expect to see?
Ben Mison In the independent channel, we have seen the vaping category become increasingly saturated as cheaper e-liquid brands hit the scene with their products that are often price-marked.
Although there are shoppers out there looking for cheap products, it’s important that retailers still offer quality e-liquids at the expense of selling something that may contain harmful ingredients.
For us, this means using quality ingredients. For example, we source the same vanilla as Marks & Spencer do. Also, more trends such as interest in CBD are arising, so it’s important retailers tap into them.
RN Where is the vaping market going, and how can retailers stand out against competition?
Ben Mison Over the next three to five years, I think there will be consolidation within the market between the big manufacturers, and once c-store retailers become more educated in the channel, they’ll see their profits rise.
It’s important to remember that they have an advantage over vape specialists because their opening times are longer, so as more people recognise them as a destination, they’ll rely on them to top up on e-liquids and accessories.
RN Why should independents stock CBD products?
Ben Mison There are an estimated 1,000 retailers in the UK stocking CBD products, and this trend started off in vape shops. Vaping CBD is the most effective way to absorb CBD, followed by oral drops, food and cosmetics – this is why most shoppers will opt to vape it as it absorbs into the body faster.
According to the Cannabis Trades Association, there are an estimated 10,000-15,000 new CBD users every month, and this will soar to 750,000 CBD users in the UK by the end of the year.
RN How can retailers best merchandise CBD products?
Ben Mison We advise retailers to keep CBD products and regular e-liquids separate because we don’t want people associating CBD with nicotine products. Vaping can be a barrier for some people – if you don’t vape, you won’t start vaping to get CBD, but instead you’ll be looking for other products such as oral drops or cosmetics that contain it. So, having a display with all CBD products together gives shoppers more ways to enter the category.
Similarly, having CBD e-liquids near nicotine e-liquids suggests that the products all contain the same thing – so those who want to vape CBD, but not nicotine, will turn away from it.
RN How are you working with independent retailers?
Ben Mison We’ve already worked with several retailers to introduce counter displays and ‘vapestation’ formats in store.
For example, we worked with a 2,000sq ft forecourt in Waterlooville, Hampshire, which, after installing a 300sq ft vape area, increased its profits by 400% in the first month. This is a great solution for a busy store because this way you can have a staff member readily available to explain products in more detail in a separate location without worrying about a queue gathering at the main till point. It also establishes your business as a destination, and we provide retailers with the relevant training, including PoS and uniform.