The average American tobacco/nicotine user no longer presents a one-dimensional profile, sticking to a single type of product.
Now there are dual- and poly-usage customers who combine cigarettes with modern oral nicotine products. Plus, there are tobacco/nicotine users who have entered the cannabis market. These changes have significantly altered, and broadened, the demographic for accessories.
“Alternative accessories, including grinders and pipes, continue to be in high demand amongst our customers,” said Tim Greene, category manager for general merchandise and tobacco, Smoker Friendly. Its parent company, the Cigarette Store Corp., operates more than 150 c-stores, cigar lounges, liquor stores and more.
According to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, spitless tobacco products, such as nicotine pouches, was the strongest performer in the overall tobacco/nicotine category for U.S. convenience stores for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 1, 2023. The only other tobacco subcategory to boast jumps in both dollar and unit sales was accessories, 4.7% and 1.7%, respectively.
Per IRI definitions, the tobacco accessories classification includes pipes, and that could explain why it has grown over the past year compared with lighters and matches. Lighters fell more than 3% in dollar sales and dropped more than 7% in unit sales. Matches were down even more in 2022, -13% and -28.7%, respectively.
Last spring, Allied Market Research (AMR) published an analysis of the global smoking accessories market and listed water pipes, which includes bongs and hookahs, as the leading product line. It also highlighted grinders as having the potential to generate a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% between 2021 and 2030. Of course, in the U.S., much of the progress can be attributed to greater legalization of cannabis.
Over the past 10 years, 21 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the recreational use of cannabis by adults aged 21 and older. It’s a movement many believe will gain favor in more states. Fortune Business Insights predicted the cannabis market is primed for substantial growth: a CAGR of more than 32% for 2021–2028.
This momentum should further open up the market for all kinds of pipes and grinders, but also rolling papers, which are used by both tobacco smokers and cannabis customers. Even vaping devices can be used with cannabis and herb products in addition to e-liquids. AMR predicted the smoking accessories market could experience a 6.5% CAGR between 2021 and 2030.
Perhaps most encouraging to the convenience store industry is that AMR researchers anticipate offline retailers, such as convenience stores, to account for the largest share of purchases in the coming years, offering an opportunity to grow the category.