Is Investment in Branding Going to Become the Biggest Challenge for Manufacturers
Thu 12 Oct 2017
During a recent visit to my local e-liquid store, I decided to try something a little different. Although I make my own DIY e-liquid, I still check what is out there in stores, as like the hardware, the juices and flavours are getting better and better, and more diverse.
Although I am primarily a fan of “fruity-menthols”, I sought to buy something totally unlike anything I have had before. Chocolate custard, coffee, ketchup, anything…
After browsing for a few minutes I began to think just how difficult it must be for the manufacturers who have dared to plunge into a fast growing market to not only develop and manufacture flavours like I do with DIY, but on top of this to develop a brand, to differentiate, to stand out from the crowd.
Because of relatively cheap manufacturing costs, and the lack of many truly established brands, many see this market as an opportunity worth pursuing. Not only is it still emerging in the UK, but with the internet, competitive distribution, relative leniency in legislation, and many countries quickly coming round to encouraging a transition from smoking to vaping, the world really is potentially their oyster. (Oyster is definitely not a flavour I would choose however!)
Back to the store side though, with a huge range of competitors, difficulties lie in selling your product into any retail establishment, and for the shops themselves the final sale to the end user is perhaps proving more difficult too.
Since the TPD law changes, and because the majority of juices sold still contain nicotine, 10mg bottles aren’t always big enough to grab your attention from just a few metres away.
Thinking a little further down the line, is the future strategy to put these bottles in larger boxes, contributing to waste packaging, pushing up prices and taking up more store space, thus actually restricting the range on sale? Is it to develop more point of sale products and advertising for the counter-top?
I fear that those two possibilities would facilitate the bigger, capital-heavy businesses to dominate the market. However, isn’t that the nature of business and what drives highest standards?
What I feel will inevitably happen, in addition to more packaging, is yet further legislation. As a result, the few already established brands will meet the legislation, invest further into marketing, and before long squeeze out smaller competitors. I find this prospect quite sad, and believe that while we still can, we should embrace the diversity of products and range of manufacturers we currently have. The rewards will be there for the ones who make it however, so I don’t see many manufacturers giving up any time soon!
In the end it was a vibrant colour that attracted me, not a brand name. Orange in particular since that is my favourite colour. The flavour was an imitation of a well-known fizzy orange drink, and it really did seem fizzy!
I am interested to know what attracts readers in general… Are you at the stage where you buy from a recognised brand? Do you seek recommendations from the staff based on a favourite flavour, are you attracted by colour, imagery, or even a product name?
Written by ELFC content creator Alex Blatherwick
Further reading: Why DIY E Liquid is About to Go Mainstream