Despite only being around a decade old, the UK vaping market continues to develop and evolve at pace from both a commercial and technical perspective.

As the vape market continues to grow, pod-mod systems like myblu have become increasingly popular thanks to their ease of use and flexiblity.

With e-liquids accounting for 34% of all vaping sales, another key trend worth mentioning with regards to vaping is flavours.

“Retailers should consider stocking a broad range of flavours and strengths to allow retailers to cater for their individual customer base,” suggests Duncan Cunningham, UK Corporate Affairs Director at Imperial Tobacco & blu.

Whilst menthol flavours are some of the most popular amongst vapers, research has shown that fruity flavours are growing in demand. To satisfy this demand, the myblu range also includes variants of menthol-based flavours that combine fruity elements such as Blue Ice, which has hints of blueberry and fruity blends like Eucalyptus Lemon, which combines sour lemon with the cool mint tones of eucalyptus, and Strawberry Mint.

Imperial’s latest market insights show that adult smokers need to experience different flavours in order to make the switch from tobacco to vaping a permanent lifestyle change. Adult smokers also want and expect a nicotine delivery that is more like that of a traditional cigarette, something which blu’s Intense range looks to satisfy, thanks to the inclusion of nicsalts. Launched in direct response to this growing demand, blu’s new Intense Starter Kit offers a range of flavours with a rapid nicotine delivery that will help adult smokers switch to something better.

“The ban of menthol cigarettes presents a significant opportunity for retailers (and the vaping category) as consumers continue to seek out similar flavours from other alternatives,” adds Cunningham. “Retailers should stock up on menthol e-liquids and Liquidpods, especially those including nicsalts like myblu Intense, and be aware of the changes to legislation, in order to be well positioned to help smokers switch to something better.”

“We recommend stocking at least one open and one closed system from a big brand like blu,” Cunningham continues. “myblu delivers an enhanced vaping experience that is as easy-to-use as it is to sell.”

The device combines a high-performance vaporiser, with just 20 minutes charge time, with hassle-free Liquidpods that allow consumers to switch between flavours in seconds via an easy one-step ‘click and go’ system. Its powerful and convenient design makes myblu an attractive product that appeals to existing vapers looking for a second device, vape/tobacco dualists and smokers looking to switch.

myblu now has a myblu Intense Starter Kit which features the popular pod-mod vape device and USB charger, along with 2 x Intense Liquidpods, at an RRP of £19.99. The Intense Liquidpods within the kit include both Menthol and Golden Tobacco variants, two of myblu’s best-selling e-liquid flavours.

“It’s been a really successful year for the vaping category, with a rise in sales as vaping becomes more popular with consumers,” comments Nick Geens, Head of Logic and Reduced Risk Products at JTI UK. JTI’s Logic brand is now worth £17 million in the last year in supermarkets, and a growth of 28.4% year on year (IRI).

Sales growth can be explained by a number of reasons – from adult smokers looking for alternatives, to the wide range of products now available to vapers. Customers are now spoilt for choice when it comes to devices and flavours, and ordinarily supermarkets are likely to have good stock levels which encourages repeat custom. Kantar research has shown that almost a third of existing adult smokers choose to buy elsewhere if their brand is unavailable, showing how important maintaining availability is. Consumers also want convenience at their fingertips, so being able to do a weekly shop at a supermarket, including their vape, is easy, quick and hassle-free.

“Retailers should monitor current trends to ensure they are stocking a consolidated range that meets the demands of existing adult vapers,” suggests Geens. “This is especially true when considering the Menthol Ban, it’s important that retailers consider the choices menthol and capsule smokers may make now the ban is in effect. While we anticipate that most existing adult smokers will remain in the cigarette category, some may choose to look elsewhere for their source of menthol, such as vaping. It is key that retailers are armed with knowledge and stock a wide range of vaping alternatives.”

Closed tank is the fastest growing segment in the category and open tank is the biggest segment (IRI). “To provide a successful vaping offering for their customers, retailers should stock a full, consolidated range, including Logic Compact, Logic EPIQ and Logic PRO,” adds Geens.

Available in 18mg, the range of refill flavour pods with nicotine salts are designed to offer a smoother and more intense flavour delivery. Vapers can choose from Amber Tobacco, Peppermint, Berry Ripple, Banoffee and Chai Latte. The pods are compatible with the popular Logic Compact device and have an RRP of £5.99.

JTI has announced the launch of three new menthol flavours as part of its Logic Compact Intense range, to offer adult vapers and smokers a wider choice of mentholated vaping products. Building on the launch of Logic Compact Intense last year, the range has been expanded to include Berry Mint, Spearmint and Polar Menthol, providing a smoother and more intense flavour delivery at an RRP of £5.99.

“The premium pod device offers a convenient and modern alternative to traditional vaping products, allowing retailers to capitalise on the popularity of pod vaping devices,” Geens comments. “We are delighted with how well this product has been received and will continue to innovate in the flavours compatible with this device to help boost grocery sales.”

As vaping becomes more commonplace in the UK, more customers will turn to their retailers for advice and guidance on the category. If retailers wish to take full advantage of this opportunity, it is essential that they are well-equipped to assist. They must be educated and aware of recent developments, understand the needs of different vapers, and possess an in-depth knowledge of the various devices, liquids, and flavours available. To fully profit from the category staff must make sure they are comfortable passing on recommendations.

“To better understand the category and maximise sales, retailers should monitor EPoS data, stock the best sellers in their area and take advantage of educational tools such as JTIAdvance.co.uk, which offers advice to help make the most of the vaping category, from the latest trends to legislation and NPD,” adds Geens. “Retailers should also speak to their local Logic sales representative, who can provide up-to-date advice and information on the category, trends and the Logic brand.”

BAT UK is launching a range of new menthol vaping flavours and starter kits for its Vype brand. Designed for smokers of menthol tobacco products following the ban, the expansion of BAT UK’s portfolio will offer the 23% (Nielsen) of smokers who will be without their preferred product a viable menthol alternative.

BAT UK’s new menthol portfolio includes Peppermint Tobacco, Just Mint and Creamy Mint flavours. These add to the Crisp Mint – Vype’s bestselling flavour – Chilled Mint and Crushed Mint products already enjoyed by vapers. Alongside the launch of new flavours, BAT UK is also bringing to market limited edition Vype ePen 3 and Vype ePod starter kits for smokers who want to use the menthol ban as an opportunity to switch.

Flavours play an increasingly important role for adult smokers in switching from cigarettes to vaping.

Fredrik Svensson, BAT UK & Ireland General Manager, said: “The ban on menthol cigarettes is inevitably going to leave many adult smokers without their preferred product. That’s why it’s crucial that we are able to accommodate those looking for alternatives, particularly consumers who see the ban as an opportunity to make the switch to vaping.

“Our expanded portfolio means we can offer UK nicotine users a variety of alternatives developed and tested to suit their tastes and preferences, and we want menthol smokers to know that our award-winning alternatives are out there now.

“This evolution offers a significant sales opportunity for retailers who are prepared and react ahead of the ban. BAT UK hopes all these new innovations will continue to help our retailers to thrive.”

JUUL Labs has launched a new Menthol flavour JUULpod, to offer adult smokers in the UK a wider range of alternatives to combustible cigarettes.

Menthol JUULpods are the latest addition to JUUL Labs’ UK portfolio of flavours, which includes Glacier Mint, Mango Nectar, Golden Tobacco and Alpine Berry.

John Patterson, JUUL Labs UK Sales Director said: “JUUL Labs’ focus is to provide adult smokers with an alternative to combustible cigarettes, and combating underage use of our products.

“Smoking related diseases are responsible for almost 96,000 deaths in the UK annually (ONS). Smokers should first and foremost try and give up combustible cigarettes – but if they can’t or won’t, it is critically important to provide access to potentially less harmful nicotine products.”

It is estimated that a quarter of UK adult smokers – roughly 1.7 million people – smoked menthol or crushball cigarettes prior to the ban of menthol cigarettes in the EU and UK from 20th May and Patterson added that, for adult smokers who cannot or will not cease using nicotine, having access to alternatives to combustible cigarettes and accurate information about those alternatives is critical.

“With electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), adult smokers have a choice of flavours and a range of alternative options that may help them transition away from combustible cigarettes. Indeed JUUL Labs and the ENDS category exist to help end the era of combustible cigarettes.

“As smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death around the world, this goal is critical, and ENDS can play a pivotal role in achieving it. To be clear, the best choice any person can make is to refrain from consuming any nicotine product.”

Menthol JUULpods are available in a 4 pack at an RRP of £10.99.

Kate O’Dowd, Head of Field Force at Philip Morris Limited, comments: “Despite these difficult and uncertain times, the ban on menthol cigarettes is an important moment in retailers calendars this year – something we have been encouraging them to prepare for. The more retailers are informed, the more smokers will be informed and able to make the best choice for themselves.”

The ban will impact the 1.3 million smokers in the UK who currently choose menthol cigarettes. PML’s research shows that while 25% of existing menthol smokers have said they’ll move to non-menthol cigarettes, the majority (60%) are looking to switch to a new alternative. To understand the preparedness of retailers, PML recently commissioned a survey which found that 30% are yet to stock alternative products for the ban.

For retailers, being able to educate adult smokers on what best suits their preferred taste could mean the difference between retaining or losing that menthol custom. This includes knowledge of new categories and products such as IQOS, a heated tobacco device that uses heated tobacco sticks (HEETS) and includes several menthol variants unaffected by the ban which are available for retailers to sell. IQOS is neither a cigarette nor a vape. By using real tobacco instead of liquid, it delivers a more familiar and satisfying tobacco experience with no smoke, ash and less smell.

Stocking alternative products, like IQOS, offers retailers the opportunity not only to be ready to meet the needs of existing menthol customers in light of the ban, but also to generate sales and improve margins in the long run. Over half (51%) of menthol smokers said they would consider switching to IQOS when menthol cigarettes are no longer available, while 80% of smokers who try IQOS for seven days switch completely from cigarettes.

“Undoubtedly, the best thing that a smoker can do following the ban on menthol cigarettes is to quit tobacco and nicotine use altogether,” adds O’Dowd. “However, if that isn’t an option, then retailers should be equipped with the products and knowledge to help their customers switch them to a better, less harmful alternative.”

To register to become an IQOS stockist, visit the Philip Morris Retailer Hub website at menthol-ban-retail.co.uk.

The menthol cigarette ban that has now come into force is predicted to lead to a spike in adult smokers switching over to significantly less-harmful vaping equivalents, presenting a major public health opportunity across Britain.

Research undertaken amongst 1,000 UK menthol smokers by Vape Club, one of the UK’s largest online vape retailers, reveals that 39% will quit smoking, with nearly a fifth (18%) indicating they will switch to vaping to do so. Other methods of quitting were cited as cold turkey (10%) and nicotine gums or patches (5%).

Dr Aragona Giuseppe, GP and medical adviser at Prescription Doctor, commented: “Menthol cigarettes made smoking much more available for those who dislike the taste of standard tobacco cigarettes and meant that many more people took up smoking. The response from menthol smokers is clearly telling us that the ban will lead to significant numbers quitting smoking with most switching over to vaping to do so. If this is the case this could have a major positive impact on the wellbeing of the nation.”

Sir Kevin Barron, former MP and Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, says: “The menthol cigarette ban should be seen as a great opportunity to improve public health, and a chance for current smokers to explore less-harmful alternatives, such as menthol flavour vaping.”

Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby and Bulkington and the former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, adds: “Given the size of the menthol cigarette market in the UK, this could be a defining moment for the vaping sector and public health across the country, especially with the plans of the vaping sector for their menthol vaping ranges and the fact that menthol vape products have proved to be one of the most popular for smokers transitioning to vaping.

“A big switch, as predicted, could provide a real boost to public health given the evidence clearly points to vaping being significantly less harmful than smoking.”

Tim Phillips, managing director of market research firm ECigIntelligence, sees a potential spike in menthol smokers converting to vaping. Phillips comments: “We expect that a substantial proportion of current menthol cigarette users will migrate to e-cigarettes or other reduced-risk products.

“Menthol smokers may well start out using menthol e-cigarettes, which is normal for vapers, and subsequently move on to other flavours. This is similar to vapers who start with familiar tobacco flavour but then become more adventurous and take advantage of other flavours that are available in the e-cigarette market.”

The potential for improvements in public health through smokers’ quitting for vaping is backed by Public Health England, which continues to state that vaping is at least 95% less-harmful than smoking.

Research by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), the largest trade body representing the sector, shows that menthol vape products sold by its retail and wholesale members represent an average of some 16.5% of all sales and nearly double this number (30.75%) for manufacturers producing such products.

John Dunne, director at the UKVIA, added: “The UKVIA and its members are fully prepared for this landmark change to UK regulations and are ready to provide smokers looking to switch, and existing vapers, with a range of viable menthol smoke-free alternatives to see them through this transition.”

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