Want to Sell More Vape?

Industry consultant mulls vaping landscape after the fall of industry’s first big player
Vaping man

While there is no magic bullet when it comes to selling vape and e-cigarette products in c-stores, the industry has matured to the point that experts can help retailers and suppliers learn from their mistakes, and continue to ride the category’s history of innovation.

Cynthia Cabrera, consultant with Miami-based Cating Group, spoke with Convenience Store Products on the e­ffect of NJOY’s bankruptcy, the role of brick-and-mortar retail and what operators should consider if they want to sell more vaping-related products.

Q: How did NJOY help the e-cig and vaping industry, and what were the core reasons for its Chapter ‑‑ filing earlier this fall?

A: NJOY did a lot as an innovator to bring e-cigarettes and vaping to what I would characterize as a more mainstream market, namely convenience stores and other traditional retail outlets. But ... they never really reached out to the core vaping market or diversified their products in time.

It’s hard to say exactly, but various factors may have led to the bankruptcy filing, particularly its Kings 2.0 launch not being fully accepted by the marketplace and the huge costs associated with complying with the [FDA’s] new regulatory landscape.

Q: Can you be more specific regarding their product diversification?

A: NJOY initially … was very successful with disposable, closed products. They were slow to move to open products, where core vaping customers liked the ability to customize their devices, put in flavors they wanted, change batteries and work with more open systems.

Q: How would you describe the differences between c-stores and vape shops in terms of selling vaping products?

A: Brick-and-mortar [vape shops] had a lot to do with the growth of the vaping market. These products were originally only sold online. As vaping shops grew exponentially, so did the market. In 2011, there were only a handful of vaping stores. By 2013 to 2014, things just exploded. Today, there’s close to 10,000 nationwide. Brick and mortar has become the backbone of the industry.

But to your question, vaping is about being face to face with the consumer. It’s about activating that consumer and keeping them informed. It’s consultative selling: taking the time to meet customers and explaining the differences in products and flavors.

264 million

The number of cigarettes sold in the United States in ­2015--about the same number sold in ­2014.

Source: The Maxwell Report: Year End & Fourth Quarter 2015 Cigarette Industry