As the electronic-cigarette (eCig) trend catches on, a number of small business owners are setting up lounges and shops that sell eCigs, vape juices, and accessories from independent and large-scale manufacturers.
Much like the eCig industry, these small stores promote the safer, smoke-free nature of the product through store names such as “Vaperite,” “Smoke Revolt,” “Good Karma Vapor” and “Heaven Vapes.” Most stores have window signs and front door decals that promote the eCig as “tobacco- free, tar-free and smoke-free.”
Some of the brick and mortar stores are simple, fuss-free places that are intended to attract consumers who already have a brand preference and know what to look for while buying eCigs and its related accessories. Then there are some stores that seek to promote the technological advances of the eCig. These stores are set up very similar to a Smartphone store. The furniture is kept to a minimum and the eCigs are neatly displayed in glass cases. Lastly, there are stores that position themselves as trendy boutiques and the eCig as a cool gadget. At these boutiques, the environment is laid-back and a convivial spirit that promotes camaraderie permeates the store. Here, much like you do at Starbucks you can order from the regular menu or you can get the vapologist to mix you a special concoction. For instance the independently owned Henley Vaporium has staff dressed in white coats who help consumers determine what flavors they may like best and work with them on all their vape needs. At ClopiNette boutique vape juices are aesthetically organized by color and nicotine strengths. Some boutique vape joints even offer a tasting menu where consumers can sample the different flavors to decide what they like the best.
The larger eCig manufacturers are also joining the action and setting up their own lounges and stores to reach out to consumers and promote their products. Fin recently launched “Fin Café,” a sit down eCig cafe where consumers can grab a bite and vape eCigs. Southbeach Smoke has a mobile showroom that visits different cities and offers free promotional products.
Apart from the brick and mortar eCig stores, a number of manufacturers set up pop-up stores at malls. These stores are typically small cubicles in which the products are displayed. A sales person is available to explain the benefits of eCigs but usually no exotic flavors are mixed at this store.
eCigs much like traditional tobacco products are also heavily promoted at gas stations and its accompanying convenience stores to entice point of purchase sales. Many stores have banner and window signs for specific eCig products. Gas toppers with promotions such as “cents off” or “multi-pack discount” offers are common. In-store promotional signage is also common. As with other tobacco products, the placement of eCigs in easily visible areas such as near the checkout counter or near household items such as soda and snacks and candy contribute to pro-smoking social norms. Studies on conventional tobacco products have demonstrated that younger smokers were more likely to notice cigarette displays and more likely to purchase on impulse. It is likely to be no different with eCigs, especially as they are marketed to teenagers as a trendy accessory.