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Vape Marketing 101: Strategies and Regulations for Smoke Shops

Vape shops are popping up on every corner these days. And with good reason — the vaping industry is growing exponentially year over year. If you want to take advantage of this trend, you need more than just a storefront, you need innovative vape marketing. 

With vaping still in relative infancy compared to cigarettes and cigars, the rules on how and where you can market e-cigarette products are kind of like the Wild West. And the last thing you want when trying to get a new smoke shop off the ground is hefty FDA fines for breaking promotion and advertising regulations you didn’t even know existed. How can you market your store effectively without running into red tape and legal troubles?

This post covers some of the basic regulations surrounding vape marketing. Then, we’ll discuss three strategies you can use to effectively (and legally) market your store. 

Vape Marketing Basics

The vape industry is a dynamic one, driven by shifting consumer interests and hemmed in, in some markets, by strict legislation. If you want to take advantage of the ever-growing e-cigarette and vapor market, you need to market your shop to compete with other vape providers and maximize your sales potential. 

Related Read: Are Vape Shops Profitable? 3 Sales-Boosting Tips

Trends are always shifting and changing in the vape market, but some current trends include pod vapes, nicotine sale e-liquids, and open-system mods. Keeping an eye on these trends — and any future trends that emerge — will help you cater your product mix to user preferences and keep your store engaging to modern consumers. 

However, you need dedicated marketing if you want to get customers in your door and win them over with your product mix. Before we dive into our list of strategies and regulations you should understand when marketing your store, let’s explore some of the benefits you can enjoy when you get marketing right. 

The most substantial benefit of strong marketing is increased sales and revenue. Drawing customers in more frequently and nurturing customer loyalty helps make marketing profitable and allows you to grow your store. Promotions aimed at customer retention and referrals create lasting shops where vapers become more than customers, turning into regulars and fans of your store. 

Related Read: How a Vape Shop POS Can Level Up Your Business

With the right grasp of current vape trends and marketplace obstacles, you can use your marketing efforts to help your store become profitable. With this in mind, let’s explore the strategies and regulations every smoke shop owner should know when it comes to vape marketing. 

Vape Marketing Restrictions and Regulations 

1. Advertising to Minors 

The first regulation you must consider is restrictions surrounding advertising to minors or advertising efforts perceived to target youths.  

Marketing explicitly to individuals under the legal tobacco purchase age violates regulations in every state and locality in the United States. While the legal age to purchase vape and tobacco products varies jurisdictionally from 18 to 21, addressing marketing toward legally underage groups results in penalties regardless of your location. 

What does marketing to minors look like? You should avoid employing imagery, themes, or designs in promotional materials that predominantly appeal to minors. You should also steer clear of ads that portray vaping as glamorous or marketing appeals that make underage vaping look fun or exciting. 

Instead, you should focus on strictly informative, factual advertising focused exclusively on adult smokers above the legal age to purchase vape and tobacco products in your area. Ultimately, minor-oriented messaging, however indirect, risks severe legal and financial consequences.

Related Read: Tobacco and Vape Shop Management: 5 Pro Tips

2. Content and Claims 

Accuracy of claims is critical in all advertising and marketing, but with the increased scrutiny and regulations governing vape marketing, it is more important for vape and smoke shops than most retailers. 

Ensure all your marketing claims are 100 percent substantiated before making them. For example, unverified health assertions claiming vaping definitively causes less harm than smoking violate many policies. Unless conclusively proven by scientific evidence, suggesting reduced risk requires careful qualification according to regulators. 

Regulations also require you to eliminate any misleading copy about ingredients, safety, or health effects from your messaging. While vaping likely proves less hazardous than smoking when responsibly regulated, making definitive claims is currently prohibited. Any indication that vaping holds no addictive potential or physiological impacts also misleads audiences, so you should steer clear of these types of claims, as well. 

3. Marketing Platforms and Channels 

Marketing across various channels and platforms is essential for all businesses, but there are some regulatory considerations when marketing vapor products on multiple platforms. 

Posting advertising on social media sites popular among younger users can raise challenges and objections related to exposure to minors. Rules also constrain marketing on websites with significant underage user bases. 

You also must consider geographic proximity when considering physical ads. You cannot place promotional content near schools or other youth-centered properties. While digital channels raise the most concern, certain jurisdictions forbid broadcast, print, billboard, or public transit advertising on tobacco and vapor products. 

Related Read: 3 Tobacco Promotion Ideas for Small Businesses

Store owners must know and respect platform-specific advertising policies within their regions to market their store without running into legal challenges. 

4. Packaging and Labeling 

Packaging is critical for marketing and advertising across retailers, but government restrictions strictly regulate vape packaging. 

Mandatory warning labels must indicate nicotine presence, addiction potential, and age thresholds prominently. You must also include information about health risks on all packaging.

To prevent unintended child exposure, standards also require child-resistant sealing tested to resist opening by minors. Any packaging or labeling that depicts imagery deemed overly appealing, misleading, or unsafe toward youths further risks prohibition based on regulator determinations. 

As a result, you should not rely on attractive packaging to market your vape products. Instead, use custom labels to share informational health and safety claims.

5. Sponsorship and Promotions 

Sponsorships and promotions are another challenging marketing approach for vape and e-cigarette sales. Sponsoring youth-centric concerts, sports teams, entertainment events, or venues with strongly minor-skewing audiences often face restrictions. 

You also must be careful with free samples or merchandise giveaways. Anything that may target younger demographics will flag for regulators, as their goal is to limit any promotional activity normalizing underage vaping or supplying products without parental oversight. 

Vape Marketing Strategies and Ideas 

Vape marketing is strictly regulated — but it isn’t impossible to market your store and your products! Let’s examine some of your options related to vape marketing. 

1. Digital Marketing 

Though you must carefully consider the regulations governing various platforms and channels, you can still use digital marketing strategies to great effect in your smoke shop! Consider some of the strategies below:

  • E-Commerce Platform: Have you considered setting up an online tobacco store? Offering vaping products online widens your customer reach and provides remote shopping convenience. 
  • Social Media Marketing: Engaging with the vaping community on social media is critical. Share helpful content, run promotions, and spotlight new products. But remember, follow those advertising rules and steer clear of anything that might appeal to minors.
  • Email Marketing: Building an email list is gold. Sending newsletters, promotions, and educational content directly to interested subscribers can keep them coming back. Implementing a customer loyalty program using your point of sale (POS) solution can effortlessly build that email list.

Related Read: 5 Creative Loyalty Programs for Tobacco Stores (+ How To Manage Them)

2. In-Store Promotions 

Another option you might consider to market your vape shop and products is running in-store promotions. Here are some ideas:

  • In-Store Events: Consider throwing vape-related gatherings like product launches or tasting sessions. It's not just about sales; it's about creating an experience and building a tight-knit community around your shop.
  • Customer Loyalty Programs: Who doesn't love rewards? Implement loyalty programs offering discounts or exclusive deals to keep customers coming back. Implementing a robust point of sale system can help you manage a loyalty program without the stress. 
  • Visual Merchandising: Designing eye-catching displays and arranging products thoughtfully can educate customers and elevate their shopping experience.

3. Influencer Partnerships 

Finally, you may consider partnering with influencers to spread the word about your store and your products. Given marketing regulations governing vape advertising, you’ll want to approach this strategy with caution. Some things you may consider trying include:

  • Collaborations With Vape Influencers: Partnering with influential figures in the vaping realm can work wonders. Having well-known vape reviewers endorse products or create sponsored content can draw attention and credibility.
  • User-Generated Content Campaigns: Encourage your customers to share their vaping experiences through reviews, testimonials, or creative posts on social media. Develop a catchy hashtag for your store to encourage customers to share their experiences. 
  • Educational Content Creation: Create informative and engaging content like blogs, videos, or podcasts. Educate consumers about vaping, the latest products, industry trends, and safety practices. 

Leveraging Vape Marketing for a Profitable Store 

Following the regulations and adopting the strategies covered in this post should help you start to create effective — and legal — marketing campaigns for your vape store. When you start to market effectively, you’ll bring more foot traffic and online sales to your store, boosting revenue. But if you want to leverage this increased traffic appropriately and grow your business, you need the right tools and technology.

The most critical tool for your vape shop is an advanced, modern point of sale solution — specifically, a point of sale system built with vape shops in mind. 

Enter: Cigars POS

With must-have features for your store, like age verification compliance, detailed sales insights, and customizable loyalty programs, Cigars POS enables you to maximize the results of your vape shop marketing. See for yourself by scheduling a personalized demo of Cigars POS today.

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