Introduction: E-cigarette sales continue to increase in the United States. To date, little surveillance research has documented the specific product attributes driving growth. This study uses national market scanner data to describe sales trends in traditional U.S. tobacco retail channels between 2012 and 2013 and identifies product features associated with sales increases.
Methods: Data on e-cigarette sales in convenience stores, drug stores, grocery stores, and mass merchandisers in the United States were obtained from the Nielsen Company. Each product was coded for attributes such as brand, flavor, and unit size. Total sales volume, market share, and percent growth were calculated for various product attributes.
Results: E-cigarette sales more than doubled between 2012 and 2013, from $273.6 million to $636.2 million, respectively. Growth was particularly strong in the convenience store channel. Blu eCigs quickly emerged as the best-selling brand and in 2013 constituted nearly half (44.1%) of overall sales. Although fruit-flavored and other flavored products experienced marked growth, unflavored and menthol e-cigarettes overwhelmingly dominated the market. Sales of single unit products (likely disposable e-cigarettes) increased by 216.4%, a much faster rate than multi-unit packs and cartridge refills.
Conclusions: In traditional U.S. retail channels, particularly the convenience store channel, sales of e-cigarettes continue to grow, with brands like blu and disposable products as the likely drivers. Given the rapidly-changing market, expanded surveillance is needed to monitor sales not only in traditional retail locations, but sales online and in specialty "vape shops," as well.
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