Shahid Hussain, of United Supermarket is Bristol, is one of the many retailers who has begun stocking IQOS. He tells what he has learned:
Communication It really helps that the Heets contains just a blend of tobacco. Customers say: “is it like Natural American Spirit?” and we can say it’s one step beyond that – there’s no tar, there’s no smoke. Some people don’t like vaping because of the oils and chemicals and IQOS doesn’t have it.
Trial Once customers try IQOS they realise that they’re getting the hit they’re used to, they get the rush and it’s a similar taste. They’re also not getting the same smell or the feeling of being unhealthy. Some people go back to vaping or smoking but about half will decide to stick with it.
Footfall We have sold five or six devices in recent months which have a high sales price. But we have also got regular customers for Heets who will come in a few times a week – like they did for cigarettes – and who will make other purchases in store alongside them.
Display We have a unit on our counter that shows our devices and customers ask what they are. We tell them it’s not vaping but a new way of having natural tobacco without the tar and other things. We have to be careful with the words we use in signage to comply with regulations.
Loyalty The margins are about 10% so not too different from cigarettes but last month there was a distribution drive and margins went up to 18%. On top of that there are a lot of rewards like vouchers and iPads available to retailers who stock the full range of Heets and meet other criteria.