Vaping equipment companies focus on reusable products 0

Vaping equipment companies focus on reusable products

To prevent a ban, suppliers of disposable e-cigarettes are trying to redirect their customers to new systems. The gold rush atmosphere that broke out at the end of 2022 continues.

Current data shows the hype around disposable e-cigarettes, so-called vaporizers: the e-cigarette industry association Alliance for Tobacco-Free Enjoyment (BftG) predicts a 40 percent increase in e-cigarette sales to around 810 million euros in 2023 overall. Last year, sales dropped because single-use products were not included. After initially opposing the products, the association is now advocating them, but calling for stronger regulation and hoping to move toward complementary products.

Figures from the Federal Statistical Office on tobacco tax also show that sales are increasing and are no longer bypassing the tax authorities, as was the case at the beginning of the hype. In the last three quarters of 2022 - there was no data beforehand - 245,000 liters of so-called liquids were taxed. In the first three quarters of this year, the taxed quantity already amounts to almost 900,000 liters.

Colorful disposable e-cigarettes, particularly known under the Elfbar brand, were suddenly everywhere at the end of 2022. Looking back, industry participants speak of a “Wild West atmosphere”: illegal goods, dubious distributors and companies from China that were out of reach. There is also the quickly emerging criticism of sweet flavors as well as plastic packaging and batteries that end up in the trash after a single use. Over the course of 2023, providers have become more professional and are preparing themselves against a potential ban. They are switching from disposable to reusable.

Reusable systems promise advantages

According to industry participants, the figures also show that consumers are increasingly turning to reusable systems with replaceable liquid containers. In addition to the political pressure on disposable products, this is because retail chains like Rewe only focus on reusable products in their range - and manufacturers are responding to this demand.

The Chinese company Imiracle, for example, which is behind the well-known disposable e-cigarette brand Elfbar, now offers the reusable version “Elfa”. If disposable products are banned, as is being discussed in other countries, Elfbar wants to remain relevant. This is what market participants report. Imiracle or the brand's international distributor, Heaven Gifts, do not respond to inquiries. Heaven Gifts supports the new systems with large-scale marketing campaigns that are intended to emphasize the supposed sustainability of the products compared to the disposable variant. A poster campaign has been banned in the UK because it gave the misleading impression that recycling vapes was easy and could be done at home. A similar campaign is currently underway in Ireland.

Reusable products with refillable “liquid pods” have the advantage for manufacturers and retailers that they bind consumers to their system, similar to a printer. Although sales per purchase decrease, frequency increases. Manufacturers also save on production costs, for example for expensive batteries.

Tobacco companies are expanding their vape range

Corporations are also rethinking: British American Tobacco (BAT) initially brought a disposable product onto the market with Vuse Go over the course of the year, but is now trying to convert consumers to the Vuse reusable system that already existed but was hardly advertised. The tobacco company announced to analysts that it would significantly increase penetration in the European market in 2024, also because things are going worse and worse in the tobacco cigarette business. The company is currently launching an advertising campaign in Great Britain calling for greater regulation of vaping.

BAT's counterpart in Europe, Philip Morris, is more cautious due to bad experiences with vapes. The American sister company Altria bought the vapes brand Juul for a lot of money, which after several scandals and bans no longer plays a role. Nevertheless, PMI announced that vapes will also play a role in its long-term strategy to become a "smoke-free" company. At the same time, PMI is focusing on expanding the Iqos brand. But there the company is playing with the hype about vapes. PMI recently introduced the Levia variety in the Czech Republic, which no longer uses tobacco. PMI told investors that this variant was a mix of heat-not-burn and vaping.

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