Vaping is definitely the flavour of the month right now – not just a minority taste for vaping enthusiasts here in the UK, but firmly established in the mainstream as a worldwide phenomenon.
Just a few years into its development, vaping is standing at the crossroads. As the market grows, product regulations are on the way that will ensure consistent quality for consumers and spell good news for wholesalers and retailers wanting to get in on the action. At the same time, vaping is coming under similar public scrutiny to smoking, and the debate has only just started.
From one viewpoint, vaping is the new rock ‘n’ roll, with products with names like bands and vape shops populated by the kind of cool dudes you would expect to find in an Amsterdam café. The recent Vaper Expo at the NEC attracted over 6,000 visitors, and had the hip atmosphere of a rock festival, and sponsors with names to match like Cosmic Fog, Totally Wicked, Grey Haze and Vgod.
At the other end of Vape Street, as conventional smoking declines in popularity, Imperial Tobacco and other players from Big Tobacco are making inroads into the market, buying up vaping companies or bringing out their own vaping products or both, as they recognise the opportunities vaping offers to their businesses.
The end result of this combination of cutting edge fashion and conservative commercial interest is that consumers now expect premium vaping, with the focus on product quality. The evolution is actively welcomed by the retail and wholesale sectors alike.
Jordan Stewart is boss of E-Cigarette Club, Ireland’s biggest specialist retailers with a huge online presence plus two Vape Café stores in Belfast and Lisburn, Co Antrim. He told Wholesale Manager:
“It’s not hard to see why customers are increasingly demanding premium vaping products. Back in the day when e-cigarettes were in their infancy, customers tended to buy whatever they were offered. But now, customers are increasingly sophisticated and retailers can do well with brand switching as regular users seek to upgrade to something better. I guess it works in much the same way as when we start driving, we accept anything with wheels – but we soon start trading up to something safer and with a better brand and image.”
WILL VAPING OVERTAKE SMOKING?
The huge spike in popularity of e-vaping has raised a valid question among smokers and vapers alike: ‘Will vaping overtake smoking and become more popular?’ With cigarette smoking at a record low, Cloudz Vapour (www.cloudzvapour.com) is one supplier that thinks it’s only a matter of time.
In the company’s words, smoking has been declining ever since it was found in the 1960’s that it was linked to a host of respiratory diseases, and with a safer and cooler option now readily available, it’s no surprise that rates of smokers continue to go down year on year.
With more and more people catching on to the fact that vaping is the business, the numbers of users are understandably rocketing. With a growing choice of e-juice flavours, more product strengths and more vaporisers available, vaping is meeting everyone’s requirements and filling the early cynics’ mouths with a satisfying cloud of vape, and wholesalers’ and retailers’ tills with profits. But there are storm clouds gathering in terms of impending regulation, which could put the dampeners on this hot category.