V2 Cigs, National Tobacco Announce E-Cig Partnership

NTC will become exclusive marketer, distributor of V2 Cigs products in domestic c-stores

Published in CSP Daily News

Larry Wexler (left), Andries Verleur

MIAMI -- V2 Cigs, a major online retailer of electronic cigarettes, and National Tobacco Co. (NTC), distributor of the Zig-Zag and Beech-Nut brands, have announced a strategic partnership. The companies have joined forces in the development of a new line of electronic cigarette products for the retail market.

NTC will become the exclusive marketer and distributor of V2 Cigs products in domestic convenience stores and other retail outlets.

The new product is debuting at this year's NATO Show in Las Vegas, going on now through April 24.

The new line will feature a redesigned V2 Cigs Disposable model that will be sold alongside V2's new rechargeable Express Kits and refill cartomizer products. Products will be showcased in a variety of multi-product display units designed for the counters of convenience store and tobacco retailers.

"The new disposable electronic cigarette models in this line offer a major step forward in consumer experience provided by its vapor and battery performance," said Dan Recio, president of business development at V2 Cigs. "Additionally they feature a soft and pliable form factor to more closely mimic the traditional smoking experience. Our new disposables have been focus group tested against the other major retail brands. Over a three-day trial period with the same consumers, the new V2 disposable was rated the best in overall experience, and the most likely to result in a repeat purchase."

He added, "These new models feature over 400 puffs, with an aggressive MSRP [manufacturer's suggested retail price] while maintaining the integrity of trade margins."

The new partnership will bring the V2 Cigs line of e-cigarette products to a greatly expanded list of retailers across the nation, the companies said.

"NTC products are currently sold in over 150,000 retail locations in the United States," said Graham Purdy, vice president of sales and trade marketing for NTC. "We are very excited to add the V2 Cigs brand to our product arsenal. The manufacturing and online marketing power of V2 Cigs complements NTC's extensive field sales organization and account management teams. This strategic partnership will allow retailers to tap into a significant portion of adult electronic cigarette consumers that can only find their brand today in the online environment. This represents a perfect synergy."

V2 Cigs will soon be adding a store locator to its web site at www.v2cigs.com, as well as a downloadable mobile app to help existing V2 Cigs customers find its products at local retail stores. V2 Cigs products are already sold in a variety of national retailers, such as Hess gas stations and Pilot truckstops. NTC and V2 Cigs said that they expect to expand distribution to 30,000 additional retail locations this year alone.

V2 Cigs will support its retail expansion with an extensive marketing program that includes TV and radio advertising, local promotional couponing, onsite demo teams and product demonstrations, free samples, zip-code targeted direct mailings, Sunday newspaper inserts and coupons and web, mobile and event promotion. It will also provide retailers with a variety of merchandising options, including small-footprint countertop displays.

"Over the past few years, traditional retail brands have been transitioning online; today we are seeing a new trend with the most successful online brands moving into retail," said Andries Verleur, CEO of V2 Cigs. "This partnership will demonstrate the competitive power of developing high-demand brands on the Internet and making them available to a wider audience at retail. Our intent is to drive retail sales."

He said, "For the last four years, we spent our resources refining our quality control and manufacturing techniques. By delaying the high cost of traditional retail deployment, with its inherently low margins, we built a rapidly scalable and ... vertically integrated supply chain. ... With NTC running offense, we can maintain our focus on product quality--we don't have to reinvent the wheel."

NTC president and CEO Larry Wexler said, "The partnership with V2 Cigs allows both companies to build upon their mutual strengths. We are combining V2 Cigs' excellence in product design and manufacturing with National Tobacco's record of innovative introductions such as Stoker's Moist Snuff Tubs and Zig-Zag Cigar Make Your Own Systems."

V2 Cigs is the flagship brand of VMR Products LLC, Miami. V2Cigs.com, the brand's online store, receives more than six million unique monthly visitors, the company said. With more than one million customers, V2 Cigs is one of the largest online retailer of e-cigs, averaging more than 4,000 online orders per day in the United States. VMR also produces Vapor Couture an e-cigarette brand designed for women.

Louisville, Ky.-based NTC is a marketer and manufacturer of tobacco products in the cigar, cigar wraps, moist snuff, loose leaf, make-your-own (MYO) cigarettes and pipe tobacco categories. NTC distributes more than 150 tobacco products from a brand portfolio that includes Zig-Zag, Stoker's and Beech-Nut. It is a leading distributor of cigarette papers.