How Icevape Succeeded in Bulgaria and What to Come in Spain
Madrid, June 5 - On the second day of the Vapexpo Spain in Madrid, Icevape, a Bulgarian vape brand, told 2FIRSTS the story of its establishment and its visions for the future.
Established at the end of 2020, Icevape has already made a name for itself by utilizing a strategic approach to the local market. It capitalized on social media marketing, circumventing restrictions on traditional media outlets for tobacco and e-cigarette advertisements in Bulgaria. "Bulgaria is home to 4-5 million people, making marketing costs significantly cheaper than in Spain, which has a population nearing 50 million," says EU Market Manager Martin. The brand primarily uses influencers to reach a wide audience.
But this approach has recently been threatened. With recent news (The Times: "Bad news for influencers: promoting vapes to children could become illegal", or The Mirror: "Influencers could be banned from promoting vaping on sites like TikTok and Instagram") that suggesting that promoting vapes to minors could become illegal. Icevape may need to rethink its marketing strategy. Martin reflects, “In Bulgaria, it's already illegal to market e-cigarettes on YouTube, and nicotine-containing vapes can't be purchased online.”
Nevertheless, Icevape manages to work around these restrictions. While it is required by the government for retailers to verify the age of the consumers, a more accessible way of checking is by credit card payments - if a person owns a credit card, they must be at least 18.
Icevape, though ambitious in its marketing strategy, has always prioritized quality, maintaining that even minor flaws can erode the trust of fans. Hence, it partners with Shenzhen-based Itsuwa for manufacturing its disposable e-cigarettes. Their motive for exhibiting in Spain is to explore more marketing channels.
The Spanish market, however, is distinctly different from Bulgaria. While online shopping is a norm in Spain, platforms like Amazon don’t exist in Bulgaria. Traditional shopping at convenience stores or gas stations is more common there.
Icevape’s Spanish partners have listed their products on Amazon, with supplementary promotions via Instagram and music videos. However, Martin believes that offline exposure is paramount.
The brand also treads carefully around the issue of disposable e-cigarette recycling. Although the problem is yet to gain momentum in Bulgaria, Martin predicts the issue will surge in one or two years. However, the prevalence of monetary demands from retailers to set up recycling bins for Icevape is a major hindrance. Despite this, the Icevape leadership believes that it's still too early to initiate a recycling scheme. “Someone needs to set an example first. If more people start recycling, more shops will follow suit,” states Martin.
For Spain, Martin foresees a similar tightening of social media influencer marketing regulations. However, he assures that Icevape will steer clear of 'grey market' sales tactics where vapes are sold offline following Instagram promotions to young people. “We already have a large adult following. We don’t need to resort to that,” he states confidently.
Regarding the future trending product, Martin believes that pod systems will rule, although disposables will continue to be popular in Bulgaria due to their lower entry barriers and Bulgaria being a relatively new market. It’s clear that Icevape is a brand that knows its markets well, and has the flexibility to adapt to new ones. With its eye on quality and innovative marketing techniques, the brand is well set for future success.
2FIRSTS is a media partner to the VAPEXPO SPAIN to work together in promoting the development and communication of the global electronic cigarette industry.
Vapexpo Spain is the largest and most important vaporization industry exhibition in Spain, bringing together vape manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and industry experts from around the world. Meanwhile, 2FIRSTS is a global vaporization technology media and think tank, focusing on market trends and hot topics in the field of vaporization, and committed to promoting global electronic cigarette industry information exchange and development through its media influence.
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