There are very few industries currently enjoying the success being seen in the electronic cigarette industry, despite less than favourable economic conditions around the world. Those in the e-cigarette business are enjoying incredible growth and ever-expanding markets as their products make it to more and more countries. In the UK, more than one entrepreneur is making a nice living with his or her own small business.
As a small business retail, electronic cigarette sales provide a great model of how to be successful. From product selection to pricing to branding there are many valuable lessons to be learned from an industry that’s really just getting started. We’ll look at some of those lessons here.
Finding a need to fill
One of the oldest fundamentals of business dictates the entrepreneur must ‘find a need and fill it”. Although some modern marketers would disparage that philosophy based on their ability to sell anything to anyone, the principle is as true today as it ever was. Those who want to create a strong business with immense staying power will not do so merely on marketing genius alone.
In the case of electronic cigarettes, the philosophy has worked out very well. Ever since the world began its crusade against tobacco, smokers have felt as though they were the scourge of society. Many tried to quit and were unsuccessful. Others had no intention of quitting because they enjoyed the habit. An automatic need was established with the very first smoking ban.
So how to keep smokers happy whilst still being sensitive to the law and non-smokers? By creating a device like the e-cigarette. The need was there, it just took the ingenuity of a creative entrepreneur to come up with a commercially viable product.
Knowing your customer base
For any small business to survive it needs the full attention of its customers. Nevertheless, in order to get their attention you must first know who they are. The e-cigarette industry has made it clear they are targeting their products at adult smokers currently using combustible tobacco. They are not going after children or non-smokers.
Knowing your customer base allows you to do several things. First of all, it helps to create brands that are relevant to the way your customers see the world. Branding for a 50-year-old smoker is quite a bit different from doing so for 19-year-old non-smoker.
Second, knowing your customer base protects against broadening your business outside of certain parameters. If there is one thing a small business cannot afford to do, it is to become too broad in what it’s trying to offer.
Lastly, knowing your customer base allows you to play into what makes them click, thereby building loyalty to your brand. Satisfied customers feel like part of an exclusive group as a result. Once they start thinking that way, they are typically customers for life.
Wise marketing choices
Every business needs some marketing, right? The only question is how your business will market and through what channels. The e-cigarette industry provides a great model in this area. Rather than limiting themselves to just one form of marketing, e-cig businesses have embraced a wide spectrum that appeals to the various subgroups within a large customer base.
For example, online marketing and social media are hot right now. Any small business with a desire to succeed will embrace the online world with gusto. Yet at the same time, the e-cigarette industry is well aware of its many older customers that tend to shy away from the online world.
As a result, the most successful e-cigarette companies work in two worlds: the online world for those who lean that way and more traditional marketing in retail shops, through corporate sponsorships, and at sporting events. Some are not even getting into television and radio ads. In embracing so many different types of marketing, they are able to target smokers of different ages and interests.
One final thing small businesses can learn from the e-cigarette industry is the need for product quality. The quality a business gives its customers is the single most important factor determining how long the company will remain in business.
When it comes to e-cigarettes there are many bit players offering cheap products. However, the most successful companies are those that have built a brand known for its quality products and excellent customer service. Those are the companies your customers are looking for.
Succeeding in small business does indeed take a lot of hard work. However, it also takes good business sense and wise decision-making. Whether you already own a small business or are thinking of starting one, remember to find a need and fill it, to know your customer base, to make your marketing decisions wisely, and finally, to give your customers the quality and service they deserve.