Booming global sales and recent success in the UK mean the heated tobacco category is capturing consumers’ imagination – and Greater London retailers should be capitalising on the growing popularity, says JTI.

Global sales of heated tobacco products have soared since 2014, with figures from Euromonitor showing a rapid trajectory from 100,000 devices and just over 15m heated tobacco sticks sold worldwide in 2014 to nearly 30m devices and over 125bn heated tobacco sticks in 2021i.

In addition, the value of the global category has risen from around US$15.6m to nearly $28.7bni.

Speaking to The Grocer, Sarah Connor, communications director at JTI UK, said: “A growing number of existing adult smokers are looking for an alternative but familiar tobacco experience in the form of heated tobacco products, meaning supermarkets in the UK have seen heated tobacco category sales of £54mii in the last year, with growth of 11.1%iii.”

While many vapes, nicotine pouches, heated tobacco products and other smoking alternatives have seen most of their UK development to date in specialist or convenience outlets, the multiples are embracing the sector increasingly, and the potential is obvious. However, the key factor to helping customers make an informed choice between traditional tobacco and these alternatives lies with educating both retailers and shoppers on the differences between the various products on offer – heated tobacco vs vaping, for example – and the breadth of choice available to them.

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While the price of heated tobacco sticks versus a pack of cigarettesiv can prove an obvious draw for consumers during the current cost-of-living crisis, there are other factors at play in why consumers will choose heated tobacco over another alternative.

Within the overall category, sales of tobacco-flavoured variants account for 50% of all refill sales in traditional retailv, while menthol-flavoured variants account for 43%vi, indicating the overall direction of travel within the market.

Tobacco and next-gen supplier JTI says research has shown that, by heating instead of burning, heated tobacco offers adult smokers and vapers a familiar yet alternative tobacco experience, giving the user an authentic tobacco taste – thus tapping into the most popular flavour alternative in the market – but without the smoke smell and minimal charring.

However, with reduced visibility, given that tobacco sticks are stored in the gantry, multiple retailers need to train their staff in these alternatives in order to best advise customers in their decision-making and reap the sales rewards. “Understanding, for example, the differences between tobacco and vaping is a good place to start,” says the company.

Suppliers need to support retailers in their understanding of the category so that they can become experts in their own right and pass on the message to their customers, adds JTI, and there are various ways this can be achieved, with retail staff training at the top of the list.

In addition,accredited retailers, who also have good product knowledge, can use in-store demonstrations to show their customers how heated tobacco devices work, and this should enhance staff confidence when it comes to explaining them, says the company.

Meanwhile, a varied choice and consistent availability provide reassurance to shoppers that the products they seek will be readily available for purchase and clear visibility in the gantry will help shoppers to select whichever nicotine product they desire. Give the category a clear ‘home’ by displaying heated tobacco devices on a back wall solution to help shoppers to select whichever nicotine product they desire.

If these basics of merchandising are followed, says JTI, there is no reason why multiple retailers should not enjoy category sales success.

To enhance their knowledge, JTI has Business Advisers and Ploom Specialists at hand who can give guidance on what to stock and how to maximise sales. The company’s heated tobacco device is Ploom. Evo Tobacco Sticks are inserted into the device and then heated to release a tobacco vapour, with consumers able to heat 20 sticks from a single charge. As the sticks are heated from the outside, there is less tobacco debris, says the company.

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The Evo range comprises eight flavours, including the popular tobacco, menthol and fruit-based options.

To find out more about how JTI’s Business Advisers and Ploom Specialists can help multiple retailers maximise their heated tobacco sales, contact the company’s care line on 0800 163503 or visit its trade retailer website at

i Euromonitor International, as cited on
ii IRI Market Place, Value Sales, Total T-Vapour Category, Supermarkets GB & NI, MAT to Jun 2022 
iii IRI Market Place, Value Sales, Total T-Vapour Category, Supermarkets GB & NI, Jun 2022 vs Jun 2021
iv IRI Market Place, price per Unit, Total RMC, 20-pack, Total UK, 4WA to 14.08.22. With 20 sticks in a pack and at an RRP of £4.50 JTI’s EVO tobacco sticks cost less than half the price of a pack of cigarettes where the current average selling price is £11.12.
v+vi IRI Market Place, Unit Sales, Total T-Vapour Category, Total UK