Paul Coggins, head of key accounts at Blu UK, talks to Martyn Fisher about how Blu are helping wholesalers triumph in the dynamic vaping category
How has Blu UK helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?
Blu UK has been established within the channel for many years and we have worked closely with wholesalers to help optimise their offerings. The vape category remains fragmented and competitive, so it is vital to take a partnership approach to building this sector and delivering added value for all.
What is the greatest challenge faced by the wholesale industry?
The vape channel is highly competitive and arguably presents a more challenging
proposition than, say, tobacco.
It faces considerable competition, not only from the traditional competitive set, but also from the relatively new phenomenon of online vape-focused wholesalers and retailers, as well as dedicated vape stores and discounters.
Wholesalers and retailers need to upskill their knowledge and expertise in this category if they are to compete and win. It is our responsibility to offer the right support to help them achieve this.
What emerging trends and opportunities can customers take advantage of?
Vape is a dynamic marketplace that is growing and evolving at pace. Blu recently launched MyBlu, a ‘pod mod’ system, designed to aid smokers looking to switch to vaping – via our upcoming Intense Liquidpods containing Nicotine Salts – and appeal to experienced vapers seeking a powerful, yet discreet, secondary device.
We want to ensure wholesalers fully understand the various Blu devices so they can capitalise on the vape opportunity in independent retail.
What challenges has Blu had to overcome in the past year?
Like tobacco, Blu has had to conform to the EUTPD II regulations, plus recent changes to classification, labelling and packaging regulations. The vaping category has had a number of issues with compliance, but we are positioning Blu as a champion of category advocacy and work closely with our wholesale partners to ensure compliance is achieved smoothly.
What is Blu’s greatest achievement in the past year?
We are very proud of the launch of MyBlu and feedback and support that ensued from customers and retailers. We are extremely enthused about its launch into the independent channel this month.
What would you like to see in wholesaling in the next year?
I would like to see wholesalers working closely with their account managers to ensure they have a full understanding of the category, which will hopefully result in the correct range and retailer offers.
Are you planning any activity that wholesalers should be aware of?
Wholesalers can expect a range of tailored Blu wholesale channel activity over the next 12 months, including bespoke merchandising and category education solutions. In the meantime, we will continue to support the channel via our independent trade salesforce, who will be driving Blu sales and upskilling retailers.
What advice would you give wholesalers about e-cigs?
The key to success is understanding the proposition and being able to translate this into a compelling offering. Vapers will buy where they feel most comfortable, so wholesalers should look at other retailers in the vape marketplace to understand what is working for them.