As industries emerge and trends solidify, it is often wise to look at the marketing methods they use for lessons that can be applied elsewhere. Over the last decade, e-cigarettes and vaping have become extremely popular.
Given their nature as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, the market share of vaping, and their share of shelf space in smoke shops along with the rise of shops dedicated to vaping, it’s an important industry to look at.
The principles of marketing that have been applied are simple ones, but they serve as a great reminder for other businesses.
Know Your Audience
The first e-cigarette appeared in the United States in 2007. Since then, there has been an amazing evolution in both the devices and the number of people using them.
The idea initially was to present an alternative to cigarettes. E-cigs are a smokeless, tobacco free cigarette that could help many smokers quit smoking and even keep others from starting in the first place. E-cigs also gained popularity for being a device you could “smoke” anywhere, even in places where traditional smoking was prohibited.
The audience for the product was clear, and the market ripe for change. More data continued to enforce the harms of smoking, and a population obsessed with personal health turned to vapes as a better alternative. The market, which first took hold in Europe, quickly spread.
Keep It Honest
The vaping industry itself has not been without issues. Cheap liquids made with potentially hazardous materials hit the market and vapes were often labelled as “just as harmful or more harmful than cigarettes.”
Rather than trying to battle the message, the industry simply put out their own messages, and the audience they were reaching out to responded in kind. Yes, there were bad liquids, but there were many more good ones, created with vegetable glycerin and food grade flavorings.
For the most part, companies never claimed that vaping was completely harmless. They simply stated that the toxins found in most vapors were hundreds of times lower than those found in cigarette smoke and that many vape juice flavors contained little or no nicotine.
This honesty kept loyal customers loyal and interested new ones. The lesson? When your business or industry faces obstacles, keep it honest. Acknowledge the issues that you may have, work to solve them, but don’t get defensive and ugly.
Solve Your Customer’s Problem
What is the problem vaping solves? The craving for cigarettes and nicotine is strong and the habit also involves physical addictions like chemical dependency and oral fixation associated with tobacco use.
These problems were all addressed by presenting something less harmful that could actually help the user cut down on nicotine intake in gradual steps, using vapor that had lower percentages of the drug. This is a much more effective method than patches or gum previously offered.
The lesson? What problem do your customers have? What need or want to they have that your product or service meets? That is your primary marketing message: define the problem, offer a solution. While this is something we all know, we tend to highlight features of our products over the benefits it offers the customer.
Emphasizing benefits helps us connect with people, and therefore increase sales. These benefits are things that our customers can share with their friends and family as well, creating an organic reach we can’t duplicate any other way.
Vaping devices are not always inexpensive, and the inexpensive ones are certainly not the best. The same is true with the e-liquids users put in them. The best vape liquids are usually organic, contain less nicotine. They are also far less toxic than normal cigarettes.
Higher end devices are in most cases, better products that simply work better for the user. And no matter which device or e-liquids the user chooses, the amount of money saved on average is huge compared to the cost of a pack per day cigarette habit. Avoiding lung cancer, circulation problems, and other diseases is not only cost effective, but overall healthier in the long run.
The lesson is simple: even if your product or service is more expensive than others, emphasizing the benefits that set you and your brand apart from others is essential to selling any product. E-liquids that contain almost no nicotine and that are organic outsell cheaper liquids by a ratio of 2 to 1. This says the consumer’s decision isn’t only influenced by price, but by quality and value as well.
Emphasize the value and benefits of your product or service before you talk about the features. As the saying goes, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
The vaping industry is huge, and the trend it has created over the last decade is not without controversy. However, it is a good example of the power of marketing. Know your audience, solve their problems, and emphasize the value of what you do, and you too can win over customers time and time again.
What are your thoughts on the ever growing vaping industry? Share your opinions in the comments section below.