Technology is pervasive. It has infiltrated many different aspects of our lives. One of its newest triumphs is the act of smoking with the creation of the e-cigarette.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the e-cigarette, or electronic cigarette, is a battery-operated product designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. I remember seeing kiosks for these cigarettes in the mall for the first time only a year or so ago. This holiday season, I saw many different vendors all with several variations of the product. Forbes puts the estimated revenue from e-cigs over $1 billion in 2013, which is double the revenue from the year before.
This market opens up potential for vending sales – potential that has been steadily declining for more than a decade.
e-cigs back in vending
Tobacco cigarettes used to be a larger portion of a vending operator’s revenue. Some numbers I saw from the early 1990’s showed it could be as high as 7 percent of the revenue with a dollar amount nearing one billion within the industry. In the last State of the Vending Industry report, the percentage was closer to 1 percent of an operator’s revenue. With the advent of e-cigarettes, vending and micro market operators’ revenues in this category could increase substantially.
Seaga has recognized the e-cig trend and introduced an e-cigarette vending machine made in the U.S. The E-Cigarette vendor will accept cashless payments and includes cloud-based telemetry with sales data reporting, multi-lingual customer interaction as well as a live product display lit by energy efficient LEDs. The vendor features a 19-inch HD video screen with optional sound package and integrated remote control. It will be offered in floor or wall mount applications for maximum location flexibility.
e-cig bans begin
Operators considering placing e-cigarette machines or even e-cigs in their micro markets should also investigate the local ordinances. USA Today reported that recently New York council members voted to ban e-cigarettes in public places. New Jersey, Utah and North Dakota have similar bans on the electronics, prohibiting their use wherever smoking is also not permitted. Individual cities across the country also have bans.
These bans are taking place despite comments by the FDA that not enough research exists to deem e-cigarettes harmful or safe.
In the end it comes down to location. According to a recent AP article, roughly 18 percent of U.S. adults still smoke. A high concentration of these consumers in your location could mean that the e-cig will drive sales and give operators a more diverse product mix.