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Unlocking consumer behavior through vape purchasing decisions

Unlocking consumer behavior through vape purchasing decisions

At Relative Insight, we love survey open-ends. This much-overlooked data source offers unparalleled insight into consumer behavior, revealing respondents’ thought processes in a way that helps you to understand their decision-making processes.

The reason this valuable information gold mine went untapped for so long is that time-consuming, manual processes were barriers to extracting insights. Survey analysis tools like Relative Insight have changed this. Quantifying, analyzing and visualizing free text survey responses has never been easier, opening up a realm of possibilities with how you use this information.

Getting a better understanding of consumers is front and center of these opportunities. The ability to analyze survey text responses means that you no longer force consumers into selecting pre-defined answers just so you can easily analyze them; you can let them tell you exactly what matters to them and why.

To demonstrate the value of survey analysis, Relative Insight set out to understand mindsets in a sector which encompasses an assortment of consumers – vaping. The variety of devices, brands and reasons for use means that vaping comprises many tribes aligned to consumer behavior.

Relative Insight’s survey analysis platform can segment responses according to different data points, therefore the software can compare open-ended answers using data collected in closed responses. To illustrate how to apply this to understanding consumer behavior, we asked 1,000 vapers questions on vaping, plus their wider lifestyle choices and personal values.

The responses inform a study – The Vapor White Paper – which used splits within Relative Insight’s text analytics platform to identify five vivid consumer tribes within the vaping community. Download the white paper now, or read on for segmentation examples used within the study.

Vape pen users are 3.0x more social

Respondents’ preferred vaping devices formed one split used to examine consumer behavior in the study. Survey participants selected which device they used the most from four options:

  • Primarily nicotine replacement devices (e.g. cigalikes)
  • Mods
  • Vape pens and pods
  • Disposable vapes

Comparing free text responses from each segment revealed fascinating differences in how they talked. For example, vape pen users talked about their social lives and described vaping as a ‘social’ activity 3.0x more. In contrast, mod users were 5.3x more likely to discuss the ‘reliability’ of the device rather than any social element.

It satisfies my cravings for real cigarettes. I enjoy the social aspect of it.

Specialized nicotine replacement device users talked about active pursuits 5.2x more, whereas disposable vapers were 1.6x more likely to highlight different ‘flavors’.

It’s a reasonable price and easy to use and comes in many interesting and fun flavors.

The variation in respondents’ use of language depending on device type provided the vital building blocks for the five consumer tribes identified within the report.

Juul is 3.8x more fun, Elf Bars 2.6x more flavorsome

Survey participants were also asked to name their favorite vaping brands. This was a free text option, but Relative Insight’s software offers the ability to combine answers from variations of the same word – for example “Juul”, “juul” and “Jull”.

Linguistic features in the segmented open-ended responses distinguished different brand users. For example, people citing Juul as their favorite brand were 3.8x more likely to talk about the fun of vaping, as well as talking about its ‘buzz’ infinitely more.

I love this brand. The other vaping devices do not compare. They are not as fun.

Survey participants also repeatedly cited Elf Bar as a popular brand. Their conversations referenced ‘flavors’ 2.6x more, with the group noting the variety the brand offered. They also used the word ‘colorful’ infinitely more, highlighting how the brand’s aesthetic appealed to them.

Elf Bars are small and come in colorful packages with a plethora of flavors.

Two aspects of vaping overindexed for Blu users. These vapers were 3.7x more likely to talk about the smell – or lack of it – when comparng vaping to smoking. They were also 35.2x to use the word ‘lasts’, showing they were keen for their vapes to be durable and offer plenty of usage.

Vuse tastes good and lasts the longest and I can charge it in my USB charger.

These elements helped to further pinpoint varying consumer behavior within vaping.

Demographic splits reveal boomers like disposable vapes

Relative Insight’s text analysis software also segments demographic data within surveys, including age, gender and more. Building identifiable tribes required more than purchasing preferences; the study also split responses across four generations: Boomers, gen X, millennials and gen Z.

This revealed some fascinating tidbits. For example, despite disposable vapes being associated with younger generations, boomers were 2.7x more likely to use the word ‘disposables’, indicating they’re also keen users of the devices. However, gen Z were more likely to reference disposables’ brand names, such as ‘Elf Bar’ (3.0x) and ‘Lost Mary’ (10.3x).

I will switch between Lost Mary and Elf Bars depending on what flavors are available at the shop.

Previous Relative Insight research found that this generation is the most environmentally conscious, meaning there may be some cognitive dissonance in referring to brand names rather than the throwaway nature of this device type.

For millennials, convenience was the key. They used the words ‘whenever’ and ‘wherever’ infinitely more, highlighting that they liked to vape at a time and place of their choosing. While gen X didn’t talk about convenience, they reference devices’ ease of use. They used words like ‘ease’ and ‘easy’ 1.8x more, as well as the word ‘complicated’ infinitely more – as in they liked devices which “weren’t complicated” to use.

Great flavors and not too expensive. Also, it’s easy to use and has no complicated refill or coils.

Adding in demographic elements such as those above added focus to the consumer tribes emerging within the study.

Consumer behavior manifests in five tribes

Using these and other splits from closed and open-ended survey responses, Relative Insight recognized five tribes apparent not only in the vaping sector, but also transcendent across other industries.

Consumer behavior identified within the survey can be categorized into the following groups:

  • Tinker Tailors
  • Health Healers
  • Conscious Curators
  • Mercurial Magpies
  • Flavor Finders

To learn about the attributes each tribe exhibits, download the report now.