Martyn Fisher talks to Jan Louw, head of wholesale at Japan Tobacco International (JTI), learning all about JTI’s strategies for maximising vaping and tobacco sales
How has JTI helped wholesalers grow vaping and tobacco sales in the past 12 months?
We have been investing significantly in new products to maximise the profit opportunities that the tobacco and vaping categories present. Our dedicated insights team closely tracks market trends so we can react quickly to changing consumer demands to enhance and evolve our range.
Our UK salesforce is trained to keep wholesalers up to date on trends and legislation. Those wholesalers who worked with us to prepare well for legislative changes have seen the least disruption to their businesses, and those continuing to invest in the categories are reaping the rewards.
What is the greatest challenge the wholesale industry faces?
With smaller packs gone, wholesalers need to adapt their tobacco rooms to use the additional space now available. We continue to work with our wholesale partners to advise them on how best to use the extra space for tobacco and vaping ranges.
What trends and opportunities are emerging that customers can take advantage of in the vaping and tobacco sales category?
There are two clear trends in the current tobacco market – the growth of the capsule segment in the tobacco category, which is now responsible for 15.3% of total cigarette sales in the UK, and the growing value segment as consumers seek out value-for-money products.
We recently opened up opportunities for wholesalers to maximise sales by extending the Sterling Dual range, the number-one capsule brand with 40.9% of the sector, and B&H Blue, the UK’s fastest-growing cigarette brand.
What challenges has JTI had to overcome in the past year?
Ensuring the new track-and- trace system is implemented by 20 May, 2019, is a big challenge. The new traceability system, which enables the monitoring of all tobacco products across the supply chain, will only be possible with collaboration between manufacturers and the trade sector as a whole.
What is JTI’s greatest achievement in the past year?
We have released NPD into the wholesale channel over the last year – in particular, the launch of Sterling Dual Superkings 20, Sterling Dual Double Capsule King Size 20 and B&H Blue Dual Superkings 20. All three capsule products are performing well, particularly Sterling Dual Double Capsule, which is the fastest-growing capsule product within the independent and symbol channel.
What would you like to see happen in wholesaling for vaping and tobacco in the next 12 months?
We expect vaping devices and traditional tobacco products to keep coexisting, and we will continue to support wholesalers and retailers alike with quality products and merchandising to help maximise profits.
What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in the tobacco category?
Focus on stocking bestsellers ahead of peak trading times to prevent out-of-stocks and lost sales, monitoring trends and sales data to adapt the range to meet retailer demands. Look to price competitively, too, as, like consumers, retailers will be driven by price.
Wholesalers should also focus on keeping a well-stocked tobacco room plus a consolidated range of reduced- risk products in vaping bays to meet retailer needs, as well as supporting new product launches in depot with promotions through product information leaflets and posters provided by manufacturers.
share, Sterling Dual is the leading capsule brand in the market