Whether you own a vape shop or a brand that produces original vaping products, differentiation is one of the biggest challenges that you’ll face if you want to find success in the vaping industry. If you sell e-liquid, then you’re fundamentally selling the same product as every other e-liquid brand. There are only so many different companies making flavoring compounds that you can use for your e-liquids. No matter how creative your flavor blends may be, there are still no differences on a fundamental level between what you’re selling and what other e-liquid brands are selling.
The challenge of product differentiation is especially present if you own a vape shop. There are only so many distributors in the vaping industry, and there’s a good chance that you get your products from the same distributor that the other vape shops in your area use. The end result is that people don’t have a compelling reason to visit your vape shop instead of going to a competing store.
In the vaping industry, differentiation is the key factor that encourages people to choose your brand rather than a competing brand – and that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article. You need to differentiate your company if you want to give people a compelling reason to buy from you. Here’s how to do it.
Create a Completely New Product
The best way to differentiate any business from other businesses in the same industry is by creating a product that no one else has. ROBO2020 did that, for example, by creating the vaping industry’s first automatic coil cleaner. ROBO2020 can restore old, gunky coils to their original performance and flavor, thus enabling vapers to buy coils less often and spend less to vape. ROBO2020 also eliminates lengthy coil break-in periods by pre-cleaning new coils – and it can clean and dry vape coils in 30 minutes using nothing but water.
Designing, prototyping and building a completely new product isn’t easy, but it’s a powerful way to guarantee differentiation of your brand. If you have a product that people can only buy from you, then your competition becomes essentially irrelevant because you have no competitors.
In vaping, designing something completely unique is a matter of identifying a problem that doesn’t currently have a viable solution and being the first to figure out how to solve that problem. Are there any problems in vaping that you could solve?
Establish Unique Branding That Stands Out
For companies in the e-liquid segment of the market, creating a product that’s entirely unique isn’t really an option. If you’re in the United States, you can’t release a new e-liquid product without first going through the PMTA process – something that, so far, hasn’t happened with any vape juice. Even in nations with fairer regulatory conditions, though, differentiating an e-liquid brand isn’t easy. As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, no matter how creative your flavor blends may be, an e-liquid is still an e-liquid. Your vape juice isn’t going to differ from another company’s vape juice in a significant way.
Since product differentiation isn’t really possible in the e-liquid industry, the next best way to differentiate your company is by branding it in a unique way. Branding isn’t just about your logo or the name of your company; it’s about the entire experience that you give to your customers. Branding is in the packaging of your products, and it’s in the way your website looks and feels. It’s in your site’s text content and in the way your packaging looks. Creating a compelling brand image is a complex process that’s not easy for those without extensive marketing experience. If you really want to stand out, you may find it worthwhile to hire a marketing consultant.
Build a Unique Shopping Experience
If you run an online or offline vape shop, you have no products of your own – and there isn’t much that you can do in terms of establishing a unique brand identity. People usually don’t have strong feelings about the vape shops they patronize in the same way that they often develop strong feeling about their favorite vape juice and hardware brands. If you’re able to find a way to create those feelings about your vape shop, you’ll have a powerful brand that’s certain to topple the competition.
For most vape shops, though, differentiation isn’t a matter of branding. Instead, it’s a matter of creating a unique shopping experience. The truth is that delivering a unique shopping experience is an area in which most vape shops really don’t deliver. You can see that problem when you visit the local vape shops in your city; they probably all look more or less the same. You’ll see the same problem when you visit most online vape shops. A huge percentage of online vape shops are Shopify sites that look much the same as one another – and when you can’t tell one site from the next, you won’t remember that site and will have little reason to ever go back.
The best way to differentiate a vape shop is by building a unique shopping experience – and since so few vape shops actually do that, you’ll need to look outside the vaping industry for inspiration. You might find it worthwhile, for instance, to look at how a reseller of luxury products like Sephora does business. When people buy products from a seller like Sephora, they know that they’re paying more for those products than they would pay if they bought those products from a marketplace like eBay. Why do they buy from Sephora? Here are a few of the reasons.
- They can buy with confidence because there’s a liberal return policy. People can return products simply because they don’t like them.
- The website has excellent searching and product discovery features.
- Sephora has a unique customer loyalty program.
- Sephora makes the shopping experience fun by including product samples and other freebies with every order.
It isn’t necessarily possible for a vape shop to mimic all of the features mentioned above, but you should still do everything possible to create a top-notch shopping experience. You won’t get that kind of experience from an off-the-shelf Shopify or WordPress theme; there will definitely be development expenses involved in building that kind of shopping experience. You’ll find, though, that delivering a great buying experience creates a level of customer goodwill that you can’t get in any other way.
Jason Artman is the owner and author of eCig One. A professional freelance writer and SEO consultant with more than a decade of experience, Jason works with vaping companies around the world to increase their targeted web traffic and improve their revenue.