Industry experts have reiterated warnings that bricks & mortar retailers risk being left behind in the rapidly changing e-cigarette market.

In the week BAT-owned Nicoventures announced the first TV ad for the Vype ePen, analysts Nielsen said such ‘tank’ products - modular devices with refillable liquids - were driving growth in the sector and that traditional retailers needed to respond.

“The online market is driving [this trend], which traditional stores are lagging behind on offering,” said Nielsen UK liquor and tobacco lead analyst Natasha Kendall. “Also, e-cigarettes consumers like to customise by flavour so offering a wide choice is a key factor; traditional retailers will struggle with that in terms of space in store.”

Kendall estimated about 45% of e-cigarette sales were currently online while the specialist retail market was also becoming a significant channel, with around 600 stores currently in the UK. Her views echo those of Nicoventures UK and Ireland head Nigel Hardy, who has compared the arrival of specialist stores on UK high streets with the advent of retailers such as Carphone Warehouse in the 1990s.

Nicoventure’s TV ad for the Vype ePen will debut on Tuesday and features a voiceover by comedy performer Robert Webb. It demonstrates how switching flavour cartridges takes just 7.32 seconds, and showcases the three flavours. The Vype ePen was launched in October and replaces the company’s original Vype range of disposable cigarette-like products.