This Blog is supplied by Norm Bour and VapeMentors, consultants to vape shops, e-liquid companies, online businesses and others in the Vape Space. He is the host of Vape News Radio, writes for Vape News Magazine and is also their National Event Coordinator, plus contributes to other industry magazines and blogs so stays on top of all that is noteworthy. This and other related reports can be viewed at www.VapeMentors.com.
Yea, yea, I know, let’s not rush things; we still have six weeks left in the year, but trust me, in the blink of an eye it will be 2015 and you’ll be ready to get a REAL handle on your New Year resolutions and business direction. No matter how long you’ve been involved in the Vape Space, it is different than it was the beginning of 2014; certainly different than the start of 2013, and you can be damn sure that 12 months from now we’ll be sharing this same observation.
Since 2014 was the first full year that I have been involved with the World of Vaping I share my thoughts which may be the same as yours or not. One of the things that skews my view is that I have a national pipeline and glean information from one coast to the next. As the author of “Vapreneur: Your Guide to Mastering the Vape Space” and host of Vape News Radio I have interviewed brick and mortar store owners (both the ones I have helped develop as well as others) along with many e-liquid companies and their CEOs and everything on the periphery. Hardware wholesalers? Yea, I speak to them, as well as those that are importing or anyone that is creating an online store or affiliate program. With that as a backdrop, here’s where we’ve been. Where we’re going is a bit more uncertain but some things I can assure you will come to be.
Brick and Mortar stores:
They have been on the increase pretty much nonstop since 2008-2009. There are some that are still in business six, seven years later, but many have closed. WHY? Usually they over expanded, got too aggressive, and as the market tightened they could not survive and may have folded entirely or retracted some of their stores. I know several chains that fit that model. The ratio I see of openings vs. closing is about 20% fail rate, which means for every five shops opening, one is closing their doors. I know of many stores that were generating six figure monthly revenue but that is very uncommon today. Stores will open, some initiated by novices and amateurs, but more by professionals with experience. My prediction: More of the same in 2015.
Most of you reading this, those in the B2C world, are probably vape shop owners or employees. Most likely you have been in business for 3 years or less and even in that short time you’ve seen the volatility of this industry. People are fickle; tastes change. Loyalties that you thought you could count on are no longer as the “next best thing” sometimes takes away your customers. Your marketing must NEVER stop and the best tools and resources are Facebook pages and Instagram, the #1 social media channel of choice. Twitter, not so much and everything else is an also-ran.
I attend a lot of conventions and conferences and the number of new e-liquid companies that are exhibiting is mind blowing. Every event, every single one validates that of all the vendor types this space is the most prolific and expanding. WHY? Because everyone thinks (rightfully so) that this is where the money is. Some are operating their own labs, but most are contracting out to labs of every size. This segment is profitable but very risky with controversy and the FDA keeping a watchful eye. What will 2015 hold? I see a continuation of e-liquid companies proliferating, and many will close as well. STARTING a company is fairly easy and if you want to know how much you should budget it will be covered in my new book, “Masters of Vape,” which will be out by year end.
Everyone WANTS a good supply house, but they are few and far between. Many have personally let me down (along with my shops) by their lack of customer service or communication. I can name names, but not in print, but you guys who ignore your customers know who you are. I suspect you are experiencing the same thing with your suppliers. Are there good wholesalers out there that supply the hardware (or juice) that you need at competitive prices and with timely service? If you have them, please let me know so I can spread that good news. My 2015 prediction: Less wholesalers doing more. This is not a cheap buy-in business and it takes a lot of revenue to stay operational and profitable.
Accessories, Affiliates and others
The Vape Space is a gold mine of opportunities in many areas. Some of the “others” have been profiled in my book “Vapreneur” and include ZazzleBox, Vape Finds, VapeSox and others. These entrepreneurs found unique niches and grew them to success and hopefully profitability. There are still many, many opportunities that can be explored and mined for riches.
And last: The FDA, government intervention, etc…
The Deeming Regs are in place and the likelihood of the FDA coming up with a FINAL sets of laws in 2015 is less than 50/50. Based on feedback and interviews with many friends in the tobacco space, they shared that the regs for their industry took incredibly long times to execute so I suspect more of the same. The unfortunate byproduct is that the states and cities will continue to point to the lack of FDA direction as an excuse to cover their asses and ban vaping in many places. Outdoor vaping? Almost a criminal offense. Oh wait: It IS a criminal offense in many areas. Can you sample e-liquids in your or your favorite store? For now yes, in most cases, but some cities are even banning sampling. Can you vape in your car, office, home? Depends, but it’s insane how Big (and Little) Brother want to impede our rights.
On behalf of myself I wish you all the very best in 2015. If you are IN the Vape Space and have stories to share, please do so. I am always looking for “movers and shakers” to profile in my blog posts or on www.VapeNewsRadio. If you have questions, send an e-mail to: Norm@Vapementors.com
My book, “Vapreneur: YOUR guide to Mastering the Vape Space” is available as an e-book and will be on Amazon shortly. If you’d like a copy go to www.VapeMentors.com and we’ll hook you up.
If you are IN the business or WANT to get in the business this is not just theory and blah, blah, but shares real life success and failure stories of those that did both, plus offers forms and guides to understanding yourself and your possible business model.
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