Norway is a nation of nearly 5.5 million people – of whom, about 7 percent are smokers. That’s roughly 385,000 people, which is a number more than sufficient to sustain a thriving vaping industry if those people can be convinced to make the switch from tobacco to vaping.
Running a vape shop in Norway, however, is uniquely challenging. Much of the challenge has to do with the fact that Norway’s vaping regulations outlaw vaping products containing the one thing that most people would consider the most important ingredient: nicotine.
How can a vape shop survive without the ability to sell products with nicotine? That’s the biggest challenge facing vaping businesses in Norway, and it’s where this article will begin. As you’re about to learn, though, the fact that vaping products with nicotine aren’t legal isn’t the only unique challenge that vape shops in Norway face. In this article, we’ll examine them all.
Vaping Products with Nicotine Are Illegal in Norway
By far, the biggest challenge facing vape shops in Norway is the fact that vaping products with nicotine are illegal for over-the-counter sale. If and when a nicotine-containing vaping product is approved by Norway’s regulatory authorities for the purpose of smoking cessation, it’ll be legal – but so far, that hasn’t happened. Until then, Norway’s vape shops must convince the smoking population that vaping products can be just as satisfying as cigarettes even if they don’t contain nicotine.
To their credit, they have actually been fairly successful so far; an estimated 150,000 people in Norway now vape. For the remaining people who still smoke, though, there is plenty of work to be done. One possible way to switch from smoking to vaping without using an e-liquid with nicotine is by switching gradually, replacing just a few cigarettes per day with vaping sessions and increasing the ratio until vaping replaces smoking completely. Another way is to switch completely from smoking to vaping while supplementing the nicotine with a traditional nicotine replacement product or a lower-risk alternative like snus.
In order to ensure that smokers who try vaping products will actually want to come back in the future, vape shop owners in Norway need to spend a great deal of time and energy providing advice and answering their customers’ questions. The extra effort is necessary because switching from smoking to vaping isn’t a completely straightforward process if you aren’t allowed to use vaping products with nicotine.
Norwegian Vape Shops Face Competition from Underground Sellers
Vape shops in Norway face heavy competition from underground sellers of illegal vaping products with nicotine. That has been a particularly major issue over the past couple of years because disposable vapes have become the most popular vaping products in the world. A disposable vape is a complete vaping device that’s filled with e-liquid and ready to use immediately. Disposable vapes take up little space and are easy to package in bulk, and the overseas manufacturers of the devices are happy to ship them anywhere – even to places where they aren’t legal.
The underground sale of disposable vapes with nicotine isn’t just an issue in Norway – it’s a problem in other nations as well because buying disposable vapes on the black market allows consumers and sellers to sidestep regulations and avoid paying taxes. It’s particularly problematic in Norway, though, since smokers would prefer to buy vaping products with nicotine if they were available. It’s hard to convince someone to buy a legal nicotine-free vape if they have a source for vapes with nicotine on social media or know of a business that sells the devices under the counter.
Every underground sale of an illegal vaping product with nicotine in Norway represents a potential lost sale for a legitimate vape shop that sells only legal nicotine-free products. In addition, even if a consumer who buys black-market vapes eventually loses that source, he or she will probably just return to smoking instead of buying legal products. For that reason, legal vape shops are locked in a continuous struggle against the black market.
Competition Is Fierce Among Legitimate Vape Shops
Even leaving the black market out of the equation, vape shops in Norway still have to deal with plenty of competition. That’s because there’s an excellent potential for profit in the vaping industry, so Norway has plenty of vaping businesses even though the population of smokers is relatively small. With the extremely high level of competition, it’s difficult for businesses to get themselves noticed. Norway has strict laws limiting what vape shops can do to promote themselves, and online advertising is also virtually impossible because none of the major search engines or social media platforms allow vaping companies to advertise themselves.
Despite the limitations, there are plenty of ways for vape shops in Norway to promote themselves. Brick-and-mortar stores can use signage to try to draw people in off the street. It’s worth the expense to have attractive signage because in any random group of people, there’s a 7-percent chance that any of them will be smokers.
For online vape shops in Norway, content marketing is another option that can potentially help to attract attention. Smokers who are interested in vaping always have lots of questions about how to get started. By launching a blog and providing helpful advice, a vape shop can walk people through the process by explaining what they need and describing some techniques for switching successfully from smoking to vaping even though products with nicotine aren’t legally available. By publishing articles answering the questions that potential new Norwegian vapers search for online, a vape shop can gain trust and potentially capture a good amount of traffic.
Ultimately, though, price is often one of the main deciding factors that leads a potential customer to choose one vape shop over another. Getting involved in price wars can be problematic for vape shops in Norway, though, because it reduces the potential profit margins for products that are already challenging to sell since they don’t contain nicotine.
Vape shops face stiff competition – both from other vape shops and from the tobacco industry – everywhere in the world. Norway is a uniquely challenging market for the vaping industry, though, and it’s likely to remain that way unless the regulatory environment changes significantly.
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