Entrepreneurs operating in the e-cigarette sector might be missing a major opportunity to grow their businesses by ignoring potentially lucrative Eastern European markets, according to a new EU report.
The Eurobarometer survey from the European Commission – the executive branch of the EU – examined consumer responses to advertising as part of its look at the changing opinions and attitudes on tobacco and e-cigarettes. The 2014 survey was just published and builds upon patterns seen in the last iteration from 2012.
The report found a significant East/West divide, with more three-four times as many Western European consumers seeing advertising for e-cigs than their eastern counter-parts. In some ways, this is not surprising as the Western markets are, overall, more developed than their eastern coutner-parts. But even Poland, reckoned byECigIntelligence – a sector publication (which takes no funding from sector organisations) – to be potentially one of the three most important European markets and one of the three big future drivers of 5% short-term worldwide growth (from a current estimate of around $5.7 billion), had 31% of respondents saying they had seen advertising or marketing for e-cigs compared to levels such as 69% in the Netherlands, 62% in the UK and 59% in France.
Considering that many countries are in the process of implementing stronger controls on advertising, e-cig companies have a limited amount of time to get their message out in Europe. Although not all forms of advertising will be banned in all EU countries, once the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (a new set of over-arching mandatory guideliens setting minimum regulatory levels on a wide variety of issues) comes out – the difficulty of getting a message out will increase significantly.
And speaking of getting the message out – the Eurobarometer survey also examined what advertising mediums have had the greatest impact. The most visible form of e-cig advertising was no surprise – point of sale ads were seen by 36% of the population. However, a close second at 35% was TV advertising – surprising considering there are already restrictions in place in certain jurisdictions limiting or completely prohibiting e-cig TV ads. Equally, popular methods for e-cig companies such as online advertising in all forms (banners, pop-ups, videos, etc.), sponsored events and celebrity use all scored seriously low in terms of being noticed, with only 2% of respondents saying they’d seen these types of activities.
Considering that sponsorship and celebrity use in particular can be expensive, it asks the question of whether these methods deliver value for money. This is a question that entrepreneurs and start-ups in the electronic cigarette sector and looking to expand their operations will have to ask themselves when determining marketing budgets.
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