A young crowd and the absence of nicotine in many products on display set HookahFair meets VaporFair apart from most tobacco events. Even mainstream shisha appeared to take a back seat to electronic vaping alternatives like e-heads at this fast-growing European trade show
Hookah remains the backbone of the dual event that began three years ago in Frankfurt, Germany, as a shisha event. Last year was the first time out for the show dedicated to vaping products that drew e-cigarette vendors and makers of e-shisha products from around the world.
At the 2015 version, electronic shisha paraphernalia came out of the shadows of the electronic cigarette sector, a spurt in popularity that in some cases left representatives of well known e-cigarette companies tending to empty stands as trade-show visitors flocked to the e-shisha booths. Both hand-held shisha pens and products like the E-Head from Starhooks drew crowds that stood two and three deep at some booths to test this year's e-toys.
E-Head employs a variable-volt battery and an easily fillable liquid tank set inside a housing that can be fit onto any standard hookah. Starhooks' version is similar to most e-heads on the market. E-shisha users advise using a medium-to-small size hookah for best results.
“E-shisha actually is mostly nicotine-free,” said Цzhan Altintas, the managing director for Starhooks distributor Well-Com in Germany. As with combustible shisha, apple or double-apple is a common flavour and the options for other taste experiences appear endless.
A fundamental difference between consumers who use e-cigarettes and those who prefer e-shisha is that the former is most likely to be an ex-cigarette smoker looking for an alternative, Altintas said. “E-cigarettes are something to help get off smoking,” he said. “E-shisha is pleasure.”
Starhooks' E-Head, the living room complement to more portable shisha pens, is priced at EUR 129 (USD 144) -- about what its competitors are charging.
Only four hours of the two-day fair were reserved purely for business-to-business. One manufacturer said B2B wasn't bad, but the fair's consumer emphasis probably would cause his company to skip the show in 2016.
Alternative Ingredients, the new e-liquid subsidiary of US flavour maker Mother Murphy's, attended its first show, offering flavour concentrates, finished e-liquids and nicotine solutions.