By now you have certainly noticed the wide variety of vapor liquid bottles currently on the market. You will have seen bottles that are purely practical and bottles that are largely presentational. Squeezable but cloudy plastic, rigid but clear plastic, and glass in many different shapes and sizes. It is also a pretty safe bet that you understand that you are seeing this because of all the different brands in the industry. From the long established to the newest small batch producer in your city; every company will want to do something to establish an identity, to stand out, and to have a foundation upon which to build consumer loyalty. You have seen all this, but have you thought about how to use it to improve your profits, your store’s identity, and your consumer loyalty?
There are several long established, real life retail models for us to look to for inspiration. We could start with grocery stores and how they have shelves of salad dressing, or barbecue sauce, or cereal, or even coffee, and the manner in which they give you a choice between generic, standard, and premium brands; but my favorite product for illustrating this point is vodka.
If you look at the vodka section of any retailer, you will see that your options are presented in a very specific way; bottom shelf, middle shelf, and top shelf. The position on the shelf is actually how the industry describes the quality of the product. But the fact is most of the real difference between vodkas is in the packaging, the presentation, and in the price. Vodka is a humble and simple liquor, being made only of neutral spirits that are at least 95% pure ethanol mixed with water. So why is there such a price difference? Why are there so many brands? The market shows us that the answer is that consumer’s want a choice, and they often want to buy a luxury brand even when the practical difference is small compared to the price difference. You as a retailer should be prepared to offer them that choice, and to present it in a way that will be obvious to them.
None of this is to say that there is not a real difference in quality between vaping liquids and brands. The component ingredients are not truly comparable to vodka, and there certainly is going to be a difference in quality between brands. But, the current marketplace is not settled, and new consumers/manufacturers are entering it on a daily basis. Since the premium brands have not been established, the retailer has a unique opportunity to present the consumer with a choice that they are not getting from those nice display boxes in which your liquids are being shipped.
The first thing you want to look for in a premium brand are the visual clues that what you have is somehow special. The package itself needs to look more expensive and distinct from the majority of the product you are carrying. That could mean bringing in a small run of something in glass bottles, if the majority of your product is in plastic, or a different style, size or color if most of your offerings are already in glass.
You should also look for elegant labeling. A large percentage of the vaping liquids out there are labeled in a bright and eye catching manner. That is perfectly good packaging, but with your higher-class brands, you are trying to go for something a little more subtle. Price is an obvious factor in premium and luxury brands, and you should be able to build a better margin into your retail price when selling them.
Finally, we have to consider where the premium brands sit in your display area. I do not feel that it is practical to follow the liquor model here, since a lot of your product is already arriving in those nice acrylic display boxes. It seems inconvenient and graceless to stack them on top of each other. I suggest a small display inside the cases where you keep your expensive tanks and batteries. Remember that you are offering the consumers an option of not just what flavor of vapor they would like, but what kind person they are. Present them with a product that is both scarce and expensive.
Remember, your customers want a choice, not just in what flavors they can vape, but in the quality of the product you sell. Use packaging, price, and presentation to give them that choice, and let the money somebody else already spent on market research benefit you. SSA
Ryan Crosby is employeed by Brew Pack Products. Ryan is a value added packaging expert from Salt Lake City with more than 20 years’ experience providing packaging for the craft brewing and nutritional supplement industries. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Ryan at 801.736.6648, or by email at [email protected]