E-liquids: what should innovation be focused on? | Vypr

Globally the e-cigarette market is expanding as the number of vapers rises. Euromonitor data, cited by BBC, shows that UK’s market value for vaping products is currently the second largest in the world, smaller only than the United States.

We were interested to find out whether there are any major differences between regular vapers and those who do it occasionally. We ran a single answer steer asking vapers to select their most important reason for vaping. The graph below presents a comparison:

Unsurprisingly, reducing tobacco consumption and its negative effect on health is substantially more important to regular vapers, who often choose vaping as a smoking alternative. This is confirmed by the percentages of vapers having selected ‘none of these’, which we assume don’t have a particular reason to vape. While this is almost 14% for occasional vapers, for regular vapers it is only 4.4%, which shows stronger commitment to address particular issues in the latter.

The six reasons can be summarised into three types of motivation: health-related, where vaping is seen as a better alternative to smoking, recreational, or the quest for enjoyment, and economic, which is represented by the suggestion that vaping is cheaper than smoking. From this point of view the result look like this:

Regular vapers are more strongly motivated to vape overall, seeing vaping as a smoking alternative rather than a source of enjoyment. Price is more important to them as they buy e-liquids and other consumables more often.

Recreational motivation looks relatively low in both groups, however, it is worth exploring in more detail, as for e-liquid manufacturers flavour development is the easiest and fastest form of new product development (NPD). Flavours are a source of fun, indulgence and differentiation but it could be seen as unethical to market an e-cigarette as an indulgent product.

In the US, flavoured vaping products have recently been banned, as they were thought to be mainly used by teens and young adults. In the UK, however, heavy restrictions mean they cannot be marketed at young people. E-cigarettes are promoted here as smoking cessation aids rather than a lifestyle choice. The strictest laws apply to the percentage of nicotine that is contained within e-liquids, and the volume of the cartridges and atomisers of the vapes themselves: 20 mg/ml and 10 ml or less, respectively. 

Public Health England backs the use of flavours, stating that they help adult smokers switch to less harmful e-cigarettes. Subsequently flavours remain a key NPD factor. With that in mind, we looked into a selection of flavours in the UK, trying to establish top performers. We ran two multi-answer steers asking vapers which options they were likely to buy. From the results we constructed the following ranking:

On the right-hand side above is a classification of the 22 tested flavours into four groups, with the average result for each group. Fruity and Fresh are our top categories, while Adult is much less preferred, scoring around 10 percentage points less. Could a comparison between our two consumer subsets reveal more information about the potential of each flavour group? The graph below provides an answer:

Only one of the four flavour categories presents a major difference – Fresh. It is the top preference within the regular smokers’ subset, but ranks third within the occasional vapers’ group, outperformed by Fruity and Dessert. Innovation in fresh e-liquid flavours has, therefore, a high potential in targeting regular vapers. It is also an uncluttered flavour category, which could benefit from more choice.

As a final step we wanted to determine what types of products are best positioned for “fresh” flavour additions. Open and closed tank are the two major types of e-cigarette refills in the UK market. Looking into the market share of each, we found out that almost 60% of vapers currently use open tank e-cigarettes as shown on the pie chart below:

On the right-hand side is a visual presentation of the demographic slices for regular and occasional users in view of their chosen type of refill. Open tank is used by 66% of regular and 47% of occasional vapers, while closed tank – by a third of the latter and seven percentage points less than that of the former. This is expected, as open tank refill requires more skill from the user and is cheaper in the long term – two features logically associated with regular users. A novel “fresh” flavour for an open tank refill is currently an opportunity for NPD in e-liquids. A competitive price point would help address the regular users’ market.

In relatively niche segments such as vaping the ability to periodically gain insight into usage patterns and specific preferences is crucial. Vypr enables you to optimise NPD with a research process, starting with a demographic steer and followed by additional steers based on its results. The Demographic Slices functionality can be applied on some results for deeper insights.


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