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Market Research Reveals Vapes Are the Fastest Growing Retail Product in the UK

By Hannah Rhodes 24th January 2024 3 Mins


After a very successful 2023 for vaping, market research reveals the cessation products are the fastest growing category in the UK for the second year running.

Market researcher NIQ and The Grocer have been hard at work collecting data across the UK to shed light on the most purchased retail products of 2023.

What might have come as a surprise to the public, topping the list were vapes, having more than doubled in size and adding almost £1bn GBP in extra sales this past year alone.

NIQ noted that vaping products also saw growth in the amount bought, while sales of cigarettes and loose tobacco were down £849.1m and £393.1m respectively on a sales value basis.

Another area seen to increase was sport and energy drinks, boosted by the social media ‘it’ drink Prime Hydration, who were also caught trying their luck within the vaping industry by applying for logo licensing.

Now worth £1.7bn, vaping was officially crowned last year’s fastest-growing category in The Top Products Survey, adding £897.5m in sales and shifting 155.2 million extra packs through multiples, convenience stores, and independents.

Despite coming under fire in the media and among the public, the mass surge isn’t that unexpected. John Dunne – Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association – said:

“We are not surprised the UK vape industry has continued to thrive as it shows the extraordinary demand by adult smokers for this highly popular alternative to combustible cigarettes.

“Continued consumer growth shows there is a strong demand for a product that can transform lives for the better, create jobs, boost local spending, contribute to the exchequer, and save the NHS millions in treating smoking-related illnesses.”

While ELFBAR remains the UK’s bestselling vape brand, sister brand Lost Mary was dubbed 2023’s biggest gainer, with £310.7m in extra sales, thus becoming the second biggest brand to take on the UK market.

Chinese brand SKE – best known for their Crystal Bar Disposable Vapes – was ranked third biggest brand thanks to their £203m growth in sales.

Unfortunately, despite 155 million more vapes being sold in 2023 than in 2022, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows inside the industry as many brands struggled to make headway in the UK due to rising inflation and fierce competition.

One brand dominating the US disposable market is Geek Bar, but unlike its success overseas, saw a £39.5m drop in its British sales.

The ever-looming threat of stricter regulations within the UK has also certainly seen a rise this past year, which has undoubtedly affected the market.

Towards the end of last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a ‘smoking and vaping crackdown’ as well as a potential disposable vape ban that inevitably sent shockwaves throughout the industry and its consumers.

With all eyes fixated on both sides’ next move, it can be agreed that those caught in the crossfire will continue to hold their breaths as news following new regulations and restrictions are brought into focus.

Although 2024’s trajectory is yet to be uncovered, the popularity and influence vapes have had among those searching for an effective way to quit smoking are only destined to continue growing, regardless of what is to come next.

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About this author

Hannah Rhodes

Hannah is a journalist with a filmmaking and marketing background, which has paved the way for creating engaging, meaningful stories regardless of the topic. Despite not having smoked or vaped herself, Hannah firmly believes in the power vaping holds as a harm reduction tool as she grew up in a smoking household, resulting in a need to help those in similar positions in any way she can – be that through her writing for Vapouround’s various magazines or online audiences; or by connecting with locals on our bus tours. She prides herself on her ability to form and maintain close relationships with those both inside and outside the industry and believes that kindness is key in all walks of life.