November 10, 2016
Though lighters and other tobacco accessories remain fortified by cigarettes, other tobacco products and related offerings promise to generate robust sales.
By Howard Riell, Associate Editor
Business remains steady in the tobacco accessories category, with much of the industry buzz focusing on accessories for a pair of unrelated product lines—electronic cigarettes and legalized marijuana.
In states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal—it remains illegal according to federal law—convenience stores have the opportunity to add items like pipes, lighters and rolling papers.
Meanwhile, electronic cigarettes have helped increase marketable accessory lines with cartridges, chargers, brushes and more. However the category itself has become more challenging amid slowing sales, shelf space issues, competition from vape shops and most notably, ongoing legislation.
According to IRI, convenience store sales of tobacco accessories for the 52-week period ending Aug. 21, 2016 were $251.8 million, a 0.96% drop compared to 2015. Business in cigarette lighters continues to hinge on price, design and impulse buys aided by suggestive selling, and operators are only too glad to add even slightly to their average ring.
“We’re real limited as far as our accessories offering,” said Bailey Lyden, vice president of retail for Truenorth Energy, a Brecksville, Ohio company that operates 111 truenorth convenience stores in Ohio and Illinois. “We only do lighters.”
The convenience retailer has had an exclusive relationship with Bic for nearly seven years—the manufacturer also provides the chain with a private-label lighter. “We brand one truenorth and sell it a little cheaper than the normal ones. That’s been a nice deal for us.”