Vapers Bypass C-stores for E-Liquid, Battery Buys

MIAMI — Consumers may be purchasing electronic cigarettes at convenience stores, but they are turning elsewhere to purchase accessories and components like e-liquids and batteries.

According to a new study commissioned by V2, in addition to e-cigarettes, U.S. adult vapers most commonly buy e-liquid and batteries, with 71 percent and 59 percent, respectively. Slightly more than half selected e-liquid cartridges, 49 percent said they had bought a tank, and 48 percent said they had purchased a charger. 

In addition, cases were chosen by nearly a third of those surveyed, with mods and drip tips as the least common choices, at 28 percent and 27 percent.

The study examined e-cigarette users' shopping habits when buying aftermarket e-cigarette products, including accessories and e-liquids. For the survey, 300 adult vapers across the United States were polled between May 11-12.

"The possibilities for aftermarket product sales for electronic cigarettes and vaporizers are numerous," said Michelle Blair, vice president of sales, V2, a Miami-based e-cigarette and vapor product brand. "In addition to e-liquid, there is real revenue potential in sales of component parts and accessories, like batteries or carrying cases. 

According to Blair, the post-market maintenance of e-vapor devices presents "a sizable retail opportunity with the markup on accessories typically 200 to 400 percent."

However, only 8 percent of U.S. adult vapers said they bought these purchases at a convenience store, with only supermarket lower at 2 percent. 

According to the study, tobacco/smoke shop was the most frequent response with 37 percent. In addition, 27 percent those polled said they made these purchases primarily at a dedicated vape shop and 26 percent said online.

"This is clearly still an untapped market for retailers — especially c-store retailers — as most aftermarket products are sold in smoke or vape shops," Blair said. "These retailers are taking advantage of the opportunity, with more than 8,500 vape shops, for instance, having been created since 2008. Savvy c-store retailers should see this growth as a sign of the revenue and market potential."

A primary reason for not making accessory and component purchases at a c-store was the lack of availability of these items in the convenience channel. Specifically, half the study respondents said they rarely see e-cigarette accessories for sale at a convenience store.

Other reasons, according to the study, include respondents don't often shop at a c-store (23 percent), other purchase points are more convenient (23 percent), and other purchase points provide more information to help with purchasing decision (21 percent).

"These numbers show that convenience stores have yet to capitalize on the potential of this growing customer segment," Blair added. "Aftermarket electronic cigarette and vaporizer products represent a promising, albeit overlooked opportunity, for c-stores that they simply can't ignore."

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