RN How should retailers manage the vaping and next-gen category?
John Patterson For independent retailers, the focus must be on stocking a range of products for everyday consumers, and not so much for hobbyists – who are looking for specialist expertise. Retailers should have a basic open system and closed system, from one or two brands, including a range of flavours.
They specifically need to focus their efforts on offering pod systems [closed systems], as, ultimately, these are the products that are helping smokers exit the category – which, for the majority, is why they vape.
RN How can retailers bring together the management of e-vaping products and traditional tobacco?
John Patterson The vaping market for the most part has been driven by big tobacco manufacturers who have a vested interest in maintaining tobacco sales and, as an add-on, if people are looking to exit their brands, move to their vaping products.
There is an opportunity now for retailers to decouple vaping from tobacco, and build a stand-alone section in their stores that focuses on different types of needs: an open system for established vaping consumers, and pod systems for current cigarette smokers looking to quit.
It’s important to differentiate traditional tobacco from vaping, because you go on a journey from a smoker to a non-smoker, and being reminded of those tobacco cues every time they buy a vaping product could lead to someone lapsing back into smoking.
RN What is one thing all independent retailers can do to increase sales in the category?
John Patterson Get your range right – this means having relevant products for vapers and smokers.
Secondly, merchandise vaping products separately from traditional tobacco products.
A third thing is educating retailers with simple messaging they can pass onto their staff.
We’re a big proponent of retail education, and we have a training app for retailers to download that educates them on product launches and category insight.
Juul Labs is also working on an incentive programme that retailers can offer their staff when they complete training.
RN Does Juul have plans to launch into UK wholesale?
John Patterson We are currently in JW Filshill and CJ Lang, and have plans to launch into a number of wholesalers in the coming weeks.
The challenge is how can we implement our Challenge 25 policy through indirect supply because we will not launch into any retail store without that retailer agreeing to our Challenge 25 policy, which involves them signing a document.
It has taken a bit of time to put a policy and process in place with wholesalers for us to launch into the channel.
RN What are your latest product launches?
John Patterson We’re planning to launch a new pod in 9mg strength to give consumers more choice.
Previously, we only had an 18mg option, so for those looking to step down in terms of strength, the only choice was to exit the category altogether.
There are also some new enhancements to the product to give it a better draw and flavour.
We see ourselves as a tech company, as opposed to a tobacco company, so our focus remains on bettering the experience for users.