E-cigarette brands prepare to emphasise quality message

E-cigarette brands are preparing to ramp up efforts to communicate their quality positioning and reassure consumers in the face of tougher regulations that will see the devices regulated as medicines.

E-Lites

From 2016, all nicotine containing devices must be regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to give the public confidence the products are safe and meet stringent quality standards.

There is currently no specific legislation or advertising code regarding the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes. Following the reclassification of e-cigarettes a medicines, the marketing brands use is likely to come under greater scrutiny and many of the advertising approaches will no longer be acceptable, according to law firm Lewis Silkin.

Tony Scanlan, chief executive of the Gamucci brand, told Marketing Week, that while the brand will not change its overarching marketing message as a result of the new regulations, it will be running communications to reiterate its quality credentials to its retail partners and consumers.

“We already have stringent quality processes and we will go out to our retailers and customers to say our product has been around since 2007 and we will be maintaining that quality. We have hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers,” he says.

He added that while the industry had been expecting a “lighter tough” from Government there is a need for a certain level of regulation to ensure the industry meets quality standards. He claims there are currently smaller operators that do not meet the high standards consumers expect.

Adrian Everett, CEO of E-Lites, says there is a need for “clarification” over the implication that e-cigarettes currently on the market “are not good enough to meet this public health priority”. He adds the statement from the MHRA was “irresponsibly contextualised” because current devices are not classed as medicines and so therefore cannot meet the standards.

He says: “We wont change our brand and marketing message but we are happy to be regulated [by the MHRA] because its good for consumers and the industry. However we won’t be pushed into becoming a Nicorette-style cessation therapy product because we’re not – we’re a lifestyle brand.

Helen Bowyer, senior associate in the media, brands and technology team at Lewis Silkin, says: “If the proposed regulation goes ahead, from 2016, we will no longer see the current type of ads in the UK which arguably market the products in a glamourised manner which could appeal to a new market (not to just existing smokers) and potentially to teenagers/children.  Celebrity endorsements will also be a thing of the past.”

Although most e-cigarette brands such as Gamucci and E-Lites market themselves as an alternative to smoking rather than a cessation product, following the classification as a medicine, brands will be able to make similar claims to quitting aides such as Nicorette.

E-Lites, which incidentally recorded a 50 per cent uplift in sales on the day the proposals were outlined, has no plans to change its marketing or advertising strategy until the new legislation comes into effect but believes Everitt believes the reclassification could offer additional marketing opportunities, rather than restrictions.

While he agrees it could have implications on marketing or celebrity endorsements that appear to glamourise the use of e-cigarettes, brands will be able to better communicate the health benefits of the product to smokers over traditional cigarettes.

“Currently our most difficult message to deliver is how beneficial e-cigarettes are to smokers. It’s a great alternative and is 99 per cent less harmful that smoking cigarettes,” he says.

Operators in the market also think the move will lead to greater consolidation in the industry as smaller players will be unlikely to be able to afford to comply.

Scanlan says: “The cost of production a top quality product is very high, if you’re sourcing third party from China, you won’t be able to comply.”

Read Marketing Week’s feature on e-cigarette brands and marketing here. http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/trends/e-cigarettes-will-tighter-ad-rules-send-sector-up-in-smoke/4005826.article

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