Once viewed simply as an aid for people trying to quit smoking, e-cigarettes have become a part of everyday life for many Scots and manufacturers have responded with a wide range of ever-more-sophisticated products. Scottish Grocer spoke to a small selection of knowledgeable convenience retailers to get their views on how to make the most of this still relatively young market.
THE vaping market is now worth almost £160m in the UK, according to the latest findings from Nielsen, and is predicted to continue growing, but, we asked, how can c-stores ensure they get a share of this relatively new market?
Chris Gallacher of retail chain Scotfresh said the secret is keeping it simple and stocking a range that you can trust.
He said that as EUTPD2 approached Scotfresh took the decision to go to a single supplier and as a result now offers a range of 70 liquids in its eight stores. But he added that six lines account for more than 50% of sales.
Chris explained: “We take all of our stocks from Liberty Flights, who are based in Lancashire. Before we decided to go with them we went to visit their labs and saw their chemists at work.
“The three menthol products are by far our best sellers with wonderberry, blueberry and tobacco flavours making up the top six.”
Chris said that he has found most first-time vapers will start on tobacco and then move on to menthol with women more likely to then move on to the fruitier flavours.
The eight Scotfresh stores have recently been re-merchandised by Liberty Flights with a display next to tobacco.
Chris cautioned against over-complicating the offer. He said: “We have a simple offer for the beginner and carry a mid-range for the more experienced vaper.”
He added: “And price matters. We sell our e-liquids at £4.99 or three for £10 and the multi-buy offer, which is a good saving, is working well for us.”
Faraz Iqbal at the Linktown Local store in Kirkcaldy has an e-cigarettes shelf in the middle of his tobacco fixture.
He told us: “Edge, which came from Booker, has been going really well at a good price. I also stock Blu and Logic. Edge is my budget range, I used to have a few budget ones but I’ve got rid of them and just keep the one Booker supplies.
“I think a lot of people maybe buy the branded kit but then put the cheaper liquids in it.”
Ferhan Ashiq, who operates two stores in Prestonpans and Levenhall, said there are two types of e-cigarette customers and each goes for a different product.
He explained: “One type is the customer who is trying to quit smoking and they tend to be older. These customers will stick to the big brands like Blu or Logic and are very brand loyal.
“The other group is in the 18-to-35 age group looking for the vaping experience and they will be much more experimental and buy the premium liquids like Psycho Juice or Nasty Juice.”
Ferhan has recently created a vaping ‘store within a store’ at his Day-Today shop and says that since he made the move he is now selling in a week the amount of vaping products he was previously selling in a month.
He continued: “One advantage of e-cigarettes is that, although we can’t advertise them any more, we do not need to put them behind screens.
“A downside, though, is that where a cigarette smoker would come in every day, e-cigarette buyers only come to the store every three or four days. That means we are missing out on impulse sales of things like confectionery and soft drinks.”