Exclusive: John Wiesehan III Q&A

Mistic VP hopes Craft Collection will bring vapers back to convenience stores

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

craft collection

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It’s been about a month since Mistic E-Cigs launched a limited run of the Haus Craft Collection in several thousand convenience stores and mass retailers. Though the mod-style starter kit, featuring a sub-ohm tank and e-liquids, will not further expand its distribution until early 2016, Mistic vice president of sales John Wiesehan III said the initial numbers on the Craft Collection are very promising.

“Our initial sales data shows we’re winning,” Wiesehan said. “It continues to double day over day—we’re following it extremely close.”

In an exclusive interview with Tobacco E-News, Wiesehan breaks down what convenience-store retailers need to know about this new collection.

Q: How did the Craft Collection come to be?

A: Similar to Haus, the Craft Collection was actually driven by our retailers. Their basket analysis showed people were coming in and buying a starter kit, coming back and buying another tank and liquids…then they’d lose that consumer. The thinking was those consumers are getting introduced to vape through something like Haus, then going to the vape shop to see how they can make it better.

The retailers’ message to us was they need to keep that consumer in their stores longer, if not indefinitely. Nobody except for the vape shops know about this high-end hardware yet. It’s never been introduced nationally.

Q: Can this mass market option really compete with vape shops?

A: It’s a sub-ohm tank, which is where the vape market’s going. The mod kit retails at just $49.99, compared to $80-$100 at a vape shop; the tank is $24.99 ($40-50 in a vape shop); a three pack of coils is $14.99 ($20 in a vape shop). You’re anywhere from 20% to 50% savings on the hardware alone—we’re going right after the jugular against vape shops from a hardware standpoint.

The messaging is very straightforward: vape customers are spending the money anyway. We just want to give (those consumers) the option to stay in mass market and spend less money for the same quality of product.

Q: What exactly does “sub-ohm” even mean?

A: Normal tanks fire out 1.5-2.2 ohms (for example, Haus is a 2.2-ohm tank). There’s a lot more resistance in that tank, meaning you have to pull a lot harder to get vapor. The lower your ohms, the less resistance the battery creates in the coil, which creates more vapor, a stronger throat hit, a bigger cloud. You get more vapor and flavor, so the experience is more in line with smoking a combustible cigarette. It heats it a little bit warmer, so the vapor is warmer going down your throat, you feel it in your lungs more.

Q: Why was Craft Collection’s initial release limited to just 15,000 stores?

A: We did that for very specific reasons. We wanted to make sure we had a very good base line, we want to make sure we have a really good foundation and we want to make sure it works. We’re going to have a lot of good data by the end of the year to go into Q1 2016 with all those retailers who have been backlisted and want to buy the product.

Q: With all the new products out there, everything going on in vape, why should retailers dedicate space to something like the Craft Collection?

A: We have a $3.5 billion industry we’re working with here and we’ve lost two-thirds of it to online and vape shops. The industry, on a macro level, still exists: it’s just not going through out retail channel. We have the opportunity to change that.

The vape industry today is a lot like rock and roll in the 60s. Right now you have all these underground, grassroots vape shops featuring high quality vapor products and juices. The concept behind Craft Collection—taking these flavors to national retailers—is like taking The Beatles from an underground club to a bad ass worldwide tour.