Sin City was alive earlier this year with March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day and Tobacco Plus Expo International (TPE) 2016, perhaps the only trade show where traditional tobacco products are featured alongside the latest in vapor products, as well as a sprinkling of tobacco machinery and equipment manufacturers.
The vapor side of the show grew by roughly 5 percent this year, making up about 45 percent of the exhibitors overall. International representation was also a healthy part of the mix, most notably from Chinese suppliers. To help attendees take in the even more eclectic mix, TPE 2016 added a half-day to the schedule, making it a three-day show.
If you missed it, or just need a refresher, here are five quick hits from TPE 2016:
- The quality of nicotine is said to have a huge impact on e-liquid flavor (a smooth throat hit) and thus on the market. Pharmaceutical-grade, 100-percent nicotine is the direction more e-liquids are headed, predicts Tom Schrier, vice president of business development and sales for Alchem USA Inc. Its NicSelect product is touted as the only liquid nicotine that is branded.
- The best new products at the show were judged by local Las Vegas tobacco retailers and ran the full gamut of the industry, just like the show’s exhibitors. Grover, N.C.-based Cheyenne International’s limited-edition Tropical 100s Cigars was voted the best new tobacco product. Pomona, Calif.-based Square Advanced Hookah Systems took home the best new vapor product award. Color Flame Kings, out of Sarasota, Fla., won best new tobacco accessory with a refillable torch lighter that is windproof and features electronic ignition and red and green flames. Finally, the award for best non-tobacco product went to E-Liquid Therapeutics, based in Fremont, Calif., for BotaniVape.
- Limited editions are lighting up traditional tobacco. “As adult consumers expect more choices than ever before, it’s important for retailers to provide a breadth of options,” Cheyenne International Marketing Director Jessica Fratarcangelo said of why her company believes limited editions are a good fit for the little cigar marketplace. “As manufacturers, we understand space constraints are an issue, so by providing a limited edition, we’re giving retailers something new and exciting that will turn quickly and deliver high margins.”
- Local legislative issues are in the spotlight and of increasing concern. At the state level, 24 states so far this year have proposed to increase cigarette taxes, increase taxes on other tobacco products (OTP), or impose new taxes on electronic cigarettes/ vapor, acccording to the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA). As of April, three of the attempts to raise cigarette taxes had died — in Florida, Indiana and New Mexico — but the rest of the state proposals were still very much pending. “As long as governments mismanage their money and look to raise revenue from somewhere else, it will be an issue for this industry,” said Cynthia Cabrera, SFATA’s executive director.
- Hookah is gaining traction. But retailers must be sure they evolve with the category and beware of cheaply made hookahs that will only offer a one-time sale and profit. “You need to understand a happy hookah customer is a returning hookah customer,” said Mike Ahmad, spokesperson for Square Advanced Hookah Systems.
Tobacco Plus Expo International March 16–18, 2016 Las Vegas