E-Lites first e-cig brand stocked by all the big four supermarkets

 E-Lites is widening its UK distribution, becoming the first e-cigarette brand to be stocked by all four of the largest supermarkets and will more than double its marketing spend in 2014 as the battle for customers in the fiercely competitive sector intensifies. 

E-Lites
E-Lites to more than double its marketing investment this year as it plans return to TV.

Speaking to Marketing Week, E-Lite’s CEO Adrian Everett says the deal with Tesco means it is now stocked by all of the big four supermarkets is hugely important for the business as it continues its transition from an online-only retailer. He says the firm only started going into physical stores in early 2012 but by the end of that year it was in 12,000 outlets and has since increased that number to more than 20,000.

“To be the leading brand in any environment you must be in all 4 supermarkets. It sends a message that demand for the product is significant,” he adds.

E-Lites is also planning a further marketing push as it faces growing competition from large multinational such as British American Tobacco, which recently entered the market with its Vype brand. He says that until last year the firm had focused on being educational in marketing, but it is now focusing on emotion.

The firm has a new brand message “Believe You Can”, which it is promoting online through a campaign asking customers to pledge to change something in their lives or do something different. Everett says it has already had people sign up, with examples including a lady pledging to go dog sledding across the South Pole and another learning to play the piano.

The firm hopes to use footage of people achieving their goals in an upcoming TV campaign as it aims to raise awareness of its brand message and create a marketing campaign that can appeal globally.

“The focus is on the brand and how that resonates with consumers. People have a great affinity for what they eat and drink, the car they drive, the TV they own. It is becoming more apparent that the e-cigarette brand our customers use is as important as those other things,” he says.

E-Lites will be hoping it can avoid the controversy surrounding its first foray into TV advertising, which was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. Everett claims it took the firm more than 14 months to create that ad and get it through pre-broadcast clearance body Clearcast and even then it fell foul of the ad watchdog because it didn’t include information on the nature of the product or the fact it contained nicotine.

He welcomes the latest consultation by the Committee for Advertising Practice, hoping that it will lead to changes in how e-cigarettes are promoted including allowing brands to market the message that their products don’t contain tar or tobacco and that there is no fire risk or passive smoke.

“If smokers don’t know why they should try e-cigarettes they’ll stay with cigarettes. We want to market the advantages. If it is factually correct why can’t that message be transmitted?” he asks.

To support the new campaign, E-Lites has more than doubled its marketing budget for this year. Everett says the company spent £4.8m last year but plans to increase that to between £8m and £11m this year, with the exact investment depending on the cost of producing the TV commercial.

It will also run press ads targeting older audiences that read newspapers and magazines such as Men’s Health as well as a radio campaign launching on Monday (10 March). These will all be supported by digital activity, as well as below the line marketing and sponsorships. 

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