This year vape retailers throughout the UK have been challenged by the needs of their consumers, which are changing rapidly.

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

The challenge for vape retailers is twofold: meeting the growing consumer demand for smoke-free products whilst matching individual preferences based on taste, satisfaction, ritual and other potentially complex needs.

It’s fair to say that no single product can achieve this, which is why retailers of all sizes have evolved from vape specialists to multi-category operators.

Aquavape is one supplier that has moved to a multi-category to benefit its retailers’ customers and the revenues generated by its business. “Historically, we did not list multiple smoke-free categories,” says Ebrahim Kathrada, Managing Director at Aquavape, which operates nationwide.

“We now supply a range of smoking alternatives that meet market demands and trends.” Ebrahim believes a complete smoke-free product offering is essential to diversifying sales and increasing chances of satisfying more customers.

“If you don’t have a category in the store, you can’t sell it and explore its potential. If you do, you become the one-stop-shop conveniently catering to all the customer’s needs, increasing overall takings, basket spends and retention.”

Heat-not-burn, also known as heated tobacco, is one category Aquavape has embraced due to its strong performance and growing popularity amongst adult customers.

In the UK, the heated tobacco category now represented 18.6% of the total Reduced-Risk Product (RRP) market in 2021, having grown 86% versus 2020.

Heat-not-burn products heat real tobacco to deliver a real tobacco taste and cigarette-like satisfaction that, whilst not risk-free, is less harmful than continuing to smoke.

“IQOS is the UK’s number one heat-not-burn product and the first device from the category we’ve introduced” says Ebrahim. “With IQOS providing such a high-quality product and how well Philip Morris have positioned their products in the market, it will be advantageous for retailers to stock them.”

Whilst Ebrahim admits heated tobacco is new territory for the business, they are excited to offer retailers the latest smoke-free alternatives, which customers believe will receive well.

“We understand the need to offer our retailers more products, like IQOS, so that, in turn, their customers have more choice and can make a well-considered purchase. This approach has set us apart from our competition and helped us remain at the forefront of the industry.”