Despite a historically poor performance in the vaping category, Scotland’s local retailers are beginning to rediscover their passion for the category fuelled in part by innovation from the leading brands.
As has been well documented in the pages of SLR, local retailers undoubtedly lost their way over the last few years when it comes to vaping, taking only around 17% of the £1bn market in the UK, a remarkably poor performance given the huge role the channel plays in traditional tobacco sales.
There are signs however that are beginning to indicate that the sector is getting back in the game and is finally taking the category as seriously as it deserves to be taken.
This has partly been driven by the fact that the major manufacturers are now strengthening their grip on the category so it’s easier than ever for retailers to decide on a solid range and merchandise it well, increasing their chances of boosting vaping sales.
The no-mess pods part of the market looks set to be the future for the category, certainly in convenience retailing, and much of the innovation – but not all of it – has been in this area.
Among the key players helping drive new momentum in the category is Vype, the BAT-owned brand. It’s relatively recently launched Vype ePen 3 has seen huge growth, driven partly by a big budget marketing spend. BAT firmly believes the ePen 3 is “at the cutting edge of closed-system vaping technology, providing a genuine alternative to adult smokers and vapers looking for a smoother and more satisfying experience”.
The company followed up the launch of ePen 3 with the unveiling of its world-first ‘Puretech’ technology, a move BAT hails as revolutionary.
Marina Trani, New Categories Group R&D Director, comments: “We have been always at the forefront of innovation in the vaping category, introducing innovative devices like ePen 3 and pioneering new technologies in eLiquids like nicotine salts, which we introduced in our portfolio back in 2015, with the vPro range.
“Like many other world-first innovations, the Puretech blade is a radical new technology that will change the game for ever, creating a step change for the vapour category and for the Vype family.”
Puretech is incorporated in the new Vype iSwitch and Vype iSwitch Maxx solutions to give a more satisfying, smoother and richer vape with around 99% fewer toxicants than cigarettes.
Instead of the coil and wick, Puretech incorporates an ultra-slim stainless-steel blade that heats the e- liquid to create vapour. The blade, which is around the thickness of a human hair, has a surface area 10 times larger than a traditional coil and wick heating system. The blade provides a much more precise and measured way to heat the e-liquid, increasing consumer taste satisfaction by ensuring a smoother, richer and more consistent vape, with no off notes.
Additionally, the Vype iSwitch Maxx is BAT’s most interactive and connected vapour device. Bluetooth enabled, it connects with the MyVype app (available from Google Play) to give consumers full control, which is a first for the Vype brand. Through the app, consumers can tailor their device’s power setting; remotely lock the device ensuring no one else can use it, monitor puff count, battery level and device performance to track their usage; and also have access to tips and news.
Gemma Webb, General Manager at British American Tobacco UK, commented: “We are entering the most dynamic period of change our industry has ever encountered. We are experiencing an extraordinary, once-in-a-generation coming-together of societal change, public health awareness and crucially, access to technological innovation in the nicotine category.
“This convergence of factors has created a unique opportunity for the industry and our business: the opportunity to make a substantial leap forward in our ambition to provide our consumers with a choice of potentially reduced risk tobacco and nicotine products.”
Nick Geens, Head of Reduced Risk Products at JTI UK, also sees huge opportunities for local retailers: “The UK is the second largest e-cigarette market with over 3.2 million adult vapers [YouGov 2018], and with the market expected to grow, the category presents an exciting opportunity for independent and convenience retailers.
“JTI’s Logic portfolio now boasts an 11% share of the UK Independent and Symbol vaping market and a 10.6% share of the overall UK vaping market in traditional retail [Nielsen, 2018].”
Geens urges retailers to ensure they work hard at the value end of the market. He says: “There is a clear trend towards value e-liquids with over half of e-liquid sales in the independent and symbol channel selling for less than £3.00 [Nielsen, Q4 2018]. JTI’s recently launched Logic EPIQ range taps in to this demand, with an RRP of £2.50.”
Meanwhile, myblu, the UK’s leading closed kit device [Nielsen, Dec 2018] has been busy launching a new and improved Golden Tobacco flavour. Chris Street, Head of Trade Marketing at blu UK, comments: “We’re always looking at ways to strengthen our flavour portfolio using the latest in vaping technology to deliver innovative products that respond to rising trends. This is why we’re launching a new and improved Golden Tobacco flavour to complement our existing myblu range.”