The vape category has grown to be worth around £1.2bn in the UK, with roughly 38% of vaping volume sales taking place in the Convenience channel, Imperial Tobacco estimates.

As demand for vaping products continues to grow, dedicating ample space to vaping products in store should be an important area of focus for any retailer.

Overall, figures show that pod systems and cartridges have seen the most year on year growth across all channels and within Convenience specifically, closed devices, such as myblu, are the most popular, accounting for 7.9% of volume share, vs. 4.9% for open devices.

One of the main factors driving the popularity of pod-mod systems like myblu is their ease of use, with the device’s hassle free Liquidpods allowing vapers to switch between flavours in seconds via a simple one-step ‘click and go’ system.

“Given the convenience they offer, we expect pod-mod systems to remaining the devices of choice for consumers in 2022 and beyond, comments Tom Gully, Consumer Marketing Manager UK at Imperial Tobacco. “With this in mind, we’d recommend including a leading pod-mod system such as myblu, alongside a strong selection of supporting liquidpods in a variety of strengths and flavours within the range to tap into this trend.”

The most popular e-liquids tend to fall into four main flavour categories, including fresh, fruity, earthy and sweet, so we’d recommend stocking a range that covers all of these flavour profiles.

In fact, the best-selling variant in the myblu range is the Menthol Intense Liquidpod, highlighting the continuing consumer shift towards nicsalts.

“Given the varied experience of shoppers in the vape category, it is important for retailers to be equipped to offer advice that can be tailored to each customer,” adds Gully. “The retailers who can do so will be the ones that see the most success and truly establish themselves as a destination store for vapers.”

“First and foremost, it’s essential staff know what products are stocked in store and where they are positioned on the gantry, so they easily find them,” suggests Gully. “This is especially key for best-selling lines so they can always keep an eye on stock levels to avoid running out. This should also be a focus for any liquids or accessories, so they know to upsell where possible.”

Being able to spot the signs of shoppers that may be too shy or feel uncomfortable asking for help is also really important. It might be that they simply glance at the vape display or PoS on offer, or perhaps ask for a brand that you don’t stock and are about to walk away. Encouraging staff to proactively engage with these shoppers at the till point in a friendly manner and offering to take the time to explain some of the different types of vape products or help them find the right alternative product for them, will really help put them at ease. This is just as crucial for liquids as it is for devices given the myriads of different brands, strengths and solutions available.

“Understanding whether a customer is brand new to the category, or are an experienced vaper, will also help staff gauge what level of advice they may need, i.e., going back to basics, or perhaps focusing more on the latest vape innovations that have recently launched,” advises Gully.

To help ascertain the best advice to offer, it’s important to ask about their previous experiences: Are they a heavy or a light smoker? Do they have any flavour preferences (i.e., menthol, tobacco or fruity flavours)? Have they tried certain devices before? If so, how did they find them? Based on their answers, staff can then tailor their advice on the devices, flavours and strengths that would be best suited them. For example, if they’re a heavy smoker that’s completely new to the category, focusing on easy-to-use pod mod devices like myblu and its range of Intense range of liquid pods including nicsalts, would be a great starting point.

There are various ways to train staff but one particularly effective way of improving staff knowledge on vaping products is through running product demonstrations using samples of the devices being sold in store.

Allowing staff to handle the products themselves and get to know the different components using demonstration models, or sample liquids, will really help them understand more about how they work, so they can pass this information onto customers. Using similar demonstration models can also be a great way to educate customers on the devices before they buy so they leave the store fully informed on how to use a product. “Every store and its customer base is completely unique so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to follow,” continues Gully. “But, as a general rule, we recommend stocking at least one open and one closed system from a big brand like blu. Pod-mod systems like myblu should also be a focus as they have become increasingly popular thanks to their ease of use and flexibility.”

The range of devices on offer should always be supported with a strong portfolio of e-liquids, especially fruit and menthol flavours, in a variety of nicotine strengths, including nicsalts like myblu Intense, to cater for all tastes. The best-selling variant in the myblu range is the Menthol Intense Liquidpod so Imperial Tobacco would highly recommend this as a must-stock for all retailers.

“As retailers become more familiar with the category and their customers’ needs, we recommend tailoring the range offered to ensure it caters to demand,” adds Gully. “Proactively engaging with shoppers at the till point is a great way to provide excellent customer service. Retailers can use these conversations as an opportunity to advise customers on the different products and any supporting promotions available. As well as offering customers the much-needed support they need, doing so will also help retailers gather useful intel about their shopper purchasing habits that will help them shape their range.”

Retailers are a hugely important route to market for Imperial Tobacco, representing a significant proportion of its sales. As such, the firm continuously invests in supporting retailers so that they can make the most out of their products with sales and trends advice, promotions, store visits and in-store furniture.

As well as supporting retailers through a team of sales representatives, the Ignite app allows retailers to keep up to date with the latest news, information and training opportunities to help them perform at maximum efficiency. It includes a wide range of tools and advice, including incentive articles, downloadable POS, product information and top tips on how to increase sales in store.

Paul Shakespeare, portfolio brand manager at JTI UK, comments: “The 100% tobacco-free nicotine pouch category continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down.

“Now more than ever, existing adult smokers and vapers are looking for convenient, discreet products that can be used when smoking or vaping might not be possible – making them a must-stock for retailers.”

Nordic Spirit, a range of 100% tobacco-free nicotine pouches, provides a convenient choice without producing smoke, vapour or odour. Nordic Spirit is available in varying strengths and flavours depending on individual customer preference – including Mint, Bergamot Wildberry and new for this year, Spearmint.

Nordic Spirit recently expanded its portfolio with the launch of a new flavour, Spearmint, and a new Extra-Strong nicotine strength for Bergamot Wildberry. The new launches are both available in an Extra-Strong strength to reflect the growing demand for stronger variants in the nicotine pouch category. With Strong and Extra-Strong now making up 72.6% of nicotine pouch sales (IRI), and Extra-Strong the fastest growing strength (IRI), the latest variants will help retailers provide a range of options for customers seeking a stronger nicotine experience.

The brand-new flavour from Nordic Spirit also offers retailers the first ever Spearmint flavour in the category in an Extra Strong nicotine strength. Mint flavours already account for 77.6% of the nicotine pouch category and now retailers can offer their customers a sweeter tasting alternative to the classic Mint variant.

Kate O’Dowd, Head of Commercial Planning at Philip Morris Limited (PML), an affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI) in the UK and Ireland, comments: “When it comes to smoking, quitting is always the best option. But, for those adult smokers unable or unwilling to quit, convenience retailers should provide a smoke-free alternative to suit every need and preference.”

Vape, nicotine pouches, heat-not-burn products – the UK is maturing rapidly into a market of smoking alternative stores, offering a wider range of smoke-free categories rather than specialists focused on one category.

Heated tobacco is gaining significant traction in the UK amongst adult smokers looking for cigarette-like satisfaction, which currently, no other smoke-free category on the market can match.

Data from Nielsen found that heated tobacco represented 18.6 percent of the total Reduced-Risk Product (RRP) market in the UK in 2021, growing 86 percent versus 2020. The data comes as increasing numbers of retailers attempt to overcome conversion challenges by adding depth to their smoke-free offering.

Whilst over a quarter of adult smokers will explore smoke-free products in 2022, 58 percent haven’t yet found a satisfying alternative to cigarettes.

“Complementing vape and nicotine pouches with a real tobacco alternative will generate new revenue streams and enable retailers to offer a more rounded smoke-free portfolio to meet consumer needs,” adds O’Dowd.

IQOS – the UK’s number one heated tobacco product – has over 21 million users worldwide, with 7 in ten having switched to IQOS and stopped smoking.

Having only launched in the UK in late 2016, awareness of heated tobacco remains low, but momentum is building. The number of stores selling HEETS has increased six-fold since January 2018. PML are now selling almost 50 times the volume of HEETS each month than it did on average in 2017.

Juul Labs has rolled out its next generation system, JUUL2, for sale across UK retail stores, the latest step in its mission to transition more adult smokers from combustible cigarettes, while combating underage use. The JUUL2 System has been updated from previous versions with new technology and features for adult smokers, including the capability to combat potentially harmful counterfeit and compatible pods.

Following a successful pilot launch on the website last autumn, JUUL2 is now available for adult smokers to purchase from a range of major retail outlets across the country this month.

The JUUL2 features, which are based on feedback from adult smokers, include a more consistent vapour experience that competes with combustible cigarettes.

A newly designed JUUL device has a larger, long-lasting battery, and smart light system, communicating e-liquid level and battery life.

Newly designed JUUL2 pods (18 mg/mL nicotine strength) are available in Virginia Tobacco, Polar Menthol, Crisp Menthol and new Autumn Tobacco, Ruby Menthol and Summer Menthol flavours.

The JUUL2 includes technology to prevent unauthorised use, such as the inclusion of JUULpod ID to further combat against counterfeit pods.

“Following a successful online pilot launch, we are pleased to release the next-generation JUUL2 for sale nationwide through our retail partners in the UK,” Juul Labs’ EMEA VP, Dan Thomson says. “We have been encouraged by the number of existing JUUL users who have transitioned to the new system since launching on our UK website, and we look forward to providing even more adult smokers with an alternative to combustible cigarettes.”

“A key part of our mission is to transition adult smokers away from cigarettes, the leading cause of preventable death in the world, killing some 90,000 Britons annually. We believe the best method to switch adult smokers to a potentially less harmful, non-combustible alternative, is to provide a product that closely resembles the consistency and experience of smoking,” adds Thompson.

“It’s also critically important that alternatives can continue to compete with cigarettes, especially when it comes to the point of purchase, and with JUUL2, we believe we are taking another step in that direction, Thompson says.”

In addition to the upgraded features for adult smokers, JUUL2 also strengthens Juul Labs’ ability to protect against counterfeit products, striking a blow to the illicit trade market of its products. The JUULpod ID feature significantly improves the company’s ability to identify unauthenticated products and prevent use at the device level, and the JUUL2 Device will only work with JUUL2 pods.

All UK retailers stocking JUUL products will continue to uphold the company’s ‘Challenge 25’ age verification policy and are subject to continued mystery shopping audits. The company is also trialling a take-back and recycling programme for used pods and devices, which it hopes to roll out later this year.

“We have focussed our resources on the development of technologies aimed at transitioning smokers and combating unauthorised and underage use and we have a product roadmap in place to accomplish that for years into the future,” Thomson continues.

“As part of our goal to eliminate combustible cigarettes, we are committed to both responsible stewardship and environmental sustainability. We are committed to working collaboratively with key stakeholders to update the regulatory frameworks to ensure a responsible marketplace as the category evolves.”

4NX Oral Nicotine Pouches have soared since their launch in WHSmith Travel earlier this year. The new name in Nicotine Pouches has wasted no time becoming the fastest growing Oral Nicotine brand in WHSmith travel stores.

In this rapidly evolving category, 4NX have invested heavily in quality as consumers expect more but don’t want to have to pay the premium price tags. Each pouch is made using the highest quality materials and ingredients, which gives them a superior taste sensation.

The launch of 4NX Oral Nicotine Pouches into WHSmith marks the start of 4NX’s ambition to partner with select retailers that will both compliment and build their position as an international premium Oral Nicotine brand.

Tom Curle, Chief Marketing Officer at 4NX, said: “Our rapid growth and distribution is the result of both our innovative product range and a collaborative partnership approach.

“Consumers are looking for more pocket friendly smoking alternatives, this is not just about the size of the packaging. The need for a cost conscious brand is paramount post COVID, as many consumers will now look to save money on their weekly shop whilst still being conscious of their health and wellbeing. 4NX is positioning itself to be disruptive to the market, with a RSP of £5.00.

“The aim was to create a high quality product while making it affordable to the consumer and attractive to the retailer with up to 50% margins.”

For the WHSmith activation, 4NX launched 3 flavours across 3 strengths; the full range of Oral Nicotine Pouches consist of 9 flavours ranging from Mint through to the exciting Blue Raspberry Ice and Tropical Ice for the fruitier connoisseurs amongst us.

nzo Vape has announced that it’s new range of disposable vapes have taken off without any delays in WHSmith travel stores – the premium range of nzo Novo Bar products is available to purchase in WHSmith travel stores nationwide, major airports, railway stations and service stations. nzo’s disposable offering has wasted no time covering the skies becoming the best selling disposable/pod device in WHSmith.

nzo are committed to supporting both vapers in their smoke-free journey while offering smokers a long-term solution to switch from combustible cigarettes. nzo Novo Bar joins the nzo Starter Kit and nzo Pods, which have been available since February 2021, to form a full category offering for smokers and vapers.

The launch of nzo Novo Bar into WHSmith marks a continuation of nzo’s ambition to partner with select retailers that will both compliment and build their position as an international premium vaping brand. Irshad Kara, Managing Director at nzo, says: “Our rapid growth and distribution is the result of both our innovative product range and a collaborative partnership approach.

“We believe that we offer a full smoke-free journey solution appealing to both smokers and vapers, with a unique proposition allowing unrivalled flavour choice in either pods, disposables or traditional 10ml E-Liquids.

“The market is becoming saturated with disposable vapes, so it is important that retail outlets stock a product range that is and always intends to be ahead of the curve, well made and can increase revenue through increased market share.”

nzo’s innovative product and collaborative partnership with SMOK® addresses these industry wide challenges head on.

For the WHSmith launch nzo released five flavours out of the eight available with 600 puffs per device for their 20mg devices.

Mica Sangiovanni, Senior Trade Marketing Manager, RELX, comments: “Customer considerations when selecting next-gen nicotine devices have shifted in the past year, with more shoppers, looking for easy to operate and cost-effective vaping devices, which are readily available in both convenience and the multiples.

“With demand for convenience, we are also witnessing a new era of consumer, those who demand devices which can be easily located in local stores, a transaction process which involves little, if any, conversation with a salesperson and requires no effort to operate.

“We anticipate the trend of convenience, and especially the demand for closed-pod systems and disposables, to accelerate in 2022.”

For existing adult vapers or smokers who are looking for a premium vaping experience, RELX International offers RELX Infinity (£19.99) and RELX Essential (£9.99). RELX Essential is the brand’s top performing vaping device and boasts an ergonomic mouthpiece, super smooth inhalation experience, leak-resistant maze and easy USB-C charging, all at an affordable price.

RELX Infinity device offers all the same cutting-edge features, with the additions of an ultra-premium sleek design and a state-of-the-art dual charging system for users looking to charge on the move.

The top selling flavoured pods at RELX are Fresh Red, Blue Gems, Tangy Purple, Raspy Ruby & Peppermint.

As consumer demand for convenience in the vaping sector increases, brands offering easy to operate closed and disposable pod devices, are leading the way.

In response to this growing demand for convenience, RELX International has added a brand-new product to its line-up of next-generation vaping products – RELX Starter Kit.

The closed pod kit is priced at £8.99 and includes one pre-charged black RELX Essential, the brand’s most popular device, plus one closed pod, either Fresh Red or Menthol Plus flavour, and a USB charging cable. The Starter Kit aims to provide existing adult smokers and vapers with a convenient easy-to-use system, containing all the elements required to enjoy a seamless, premium vaping experience.

Darren Griffin, UK Country Manager of ZYN, comments: “Following the ban on menthol cigarettes, consumers have become more open to reduced-risk products which we’ve seen reflected in the tremendous growth of the nicotine pouch industry over the last 12 months.

“Interestingly, despite the menthol ban, consumers still desire the tobacco flavour which we found to be the most popular choice of taste for nicotine pouch users and have consequently just launched a Tobacco Gold flavour to meet the demands of these consumers.”

Being completely tobacco-free, ZYN’s Tobacco Gold delivers nicotine in a less harmful way than smoking due to ZYN being made up of pharmaceutical grade nicotine and food-grade products only.

“Whilst nicotine pouches are less harmful for those who are looking for a smoke-free and tobacco-free way to consume nicotine, the category is relatively new to the UK market which highlights the need to educate nicotine users on the harm reduction from switching from traditional cigarettes to nicotine pouches, particularly for those who worry about second-hand smoking,” adds Griffin.

The smoke-free market is growing at a phenomenal rate, with the nicotine pouch category tripling in size from 2020 to 2021 and is forecasted to more than double again in 2022 (Nielsen). Nicotine pouches are the fastest growing category across the nicotine industry and growth is only predicted to escalate over the foreseeable future.

More precisely, the nicotine pouch category has seen a weekly CAGR of 1.8%, an average monthly growth rate of 8% and in 2021 is forecasted to grow to a CAGR of 206% from 2020 volumes.

Across the nicotine pouch category, mint flavoured pouches currently make 77% (Nielsen) of the total market volume with ZYN’s Cool Mint range being the most popular flavour. Consequently, Cool Mint has the widest variety of strengths (3mg, 6mg, 9mg) to meet all customer demand.

In May ZYN launched Tobacco Gold which is a tobacco flavoured, but tobacco-free nicotine pouch in strengths medium (3mg) and strong (6mg), designed for nicotine users who do not wish to consume tobacco, but still enjoy the taste.

The nicotine pouches have a sweet tobacco flavour with a taste of dried fruit, wood and caramel and addresses the demands of consumers, as tobacco has become the most desired flavour in the category.

As a decline in cigarette smoking continues, Tobacco Gold is a reduce-risk solution for cigarette smokers who not only want to prevent the consumption of tobacco, but also enjoy a nicotine kick in smoke-free environments.


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