NEW YORK -- Through much of 2016, Nielsen has reported slumping electronic-cigarette and vapor sales. That trend seems to have turned around, with Nielsen reporting double-digit growth in both unit and dollar sales for the four weeks ending June 18. During that time, all channel e-cig dollar sales were up 12.9% and unit sales were up 20.4%, figures Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog described as “remarkable.”
“[Sales were] driven by solid volume and pricing gains by Vuse and distribution gains by Altria’s MarkTen XL, most likely driven by intense couponing,” Herzog wrote in a research note.
Specifically, Reynolds’ Vuse grew its dollar share by 2.4% (representing 35.7% of e-cig dollar sales), but lost 4% of its volume share (40.5% of the category).
“Altria continues to post robust year-over-year share gains, driven by the expansion of MarkTen XL, as its dollar share was up 10.3% (to 16.3%), while its volume share was up 13.7% (to 20.9%),” wrote Cowen Group analyst Vivien Azer.
Beyond Vuse and MarkTen, many top brands experienced slight declines in dollar and unit sales. Nielsen showed ITG Brand’s blu down 4.7% in dollar share (to 19.3%) and 4.5% in volume share (to 13.6%). JTI’s Logic was down 1.5% in dollar share (to 12.2%), but relatively flat in its unit share (down just 0.1 points to a 8.0% share).
In terms of which e-cig and vapor products are driving sales, dollar sales growth was largely due to cartridges (which were up 36% year over year) and kits (up 5%). Meanwhile, disposables were down 21% and e-liquid refills were down 37%.
“Overall, e-cig pricing continues to show year-over-year declines reflecting the difficulty in capturing SKUs of the evolving vapor category and proliferation of vapors/tanks/mods (VTM) and refills which tend to have lower retail prices,” Herzog explained.