You’ve seen it with clothing, with shoes, even with home décor such as couches and chairs, but are your customer’s water pipe buying trends changing as well? With the multitude of different styles ...
You’ve seen it with clothing, with shoes, even with home décor such as couches and chairs, but are your customer’s water pipe buying trends changing as well? With the multitude of different styles, patterns, colors, and features it’s easy to say that water pipes and hand pipes may be becoming more of a collector’s item rather than an everyday driver. Let’s break this down into three categories: Size, Material, and Money.
Let’s face it, the old saying holds true in the pipe industry as well, size DOES matter. How experienced are your customers? Smaller pipes such as bubbler pipes and hand pipes are more portable for on-the-go use. It is also very important to ask your customers how they plan to use the piece when pursuing buying options.
If your customer is looking for a larger pipe, chances are they want a statement piece for their home. These are typically people who are willing to spend a bit more for size and show rather than functionality. Larger pipes leave more room for multiple percolators and modifications. New smokers are used to smaller pulls, and large pipes pack a powerful punch.
Larger pieces are typically more prone to breaking as opposed to a smaller piece. Kind of like your grandparents China set that only comes out for the Holidays, collectors are going to be looking for those larger rigs with unique designs and setups. Whereas small and medium size water pipes and hand pipes are usually more durable, especially if they are made out of borosilicate glass (we are going to be talking about this next).
There are many different kinds of water pipes, and made of all different kinds of materials, from glass and siliconepipes to stone and metal, there are plenty of different options for your customers to choose from. So how do you know what's best for the customer? Find out their intent of use.
Quality glass pipes, particularly larger pipes, are best for occasional use without travel, whereas smaller glass hand pipes are more discreet and easier to store, In other words, traveling with a glass hand pipe would be much easier than traveling with a larger glass water pipe. Your customers are also going to have two options when it comes to purchasing glass pipes: borosilicate (also known as scientific) or soft glass.
What is the difference between borosilicate glass pipes and soft glass pipes? That’s a good question!
Borosilicate glass is much thicker and more durable, whereas soft glass is much thinner and easily broken. Borosilicate glass is a see through pipe material, making it easier for the user to see the quality of the water inside the pipe. Soft glass pieces are more colorful and creative, which does not allow for easy checking on how clean the water is. If your customer plans on using the pipe more often, a borosilicate glass water pipe with a percolator is probably going to be the best option for them.
If your customer is younger (18+ of course), and is wanting a piece for a party coming up, maybe a soft glass pipe would be best for them. They are typically cheaper than borosilicate, so if it breaks throughout the night it won’t be that big of a concern. More experienced smokers and collectors might be searching for a unique look or a multi-perc piece that will add more character to their assortment.
When it comes to silicone water pipes, these are typically cheaper and more durable than any other material. Silicone pipes can easily be stuffed in a suitcase for easy travel. One could even throw it across the room without worrying about it breaking, I mean, if that’s what you’re into.
Metal pipes are also pretty durable, and make for a good piece for an office desk. Some metal pipes are even very discrete, and could be passed up as a paper weight. Stone pipes are usually considered a collector’s item and are very unique in design. It’s safe to say that no one stone pipe will look the same as the next.
Something every buyer should keep in mind is that usually the more intricate a pipe is, the higher the price is going to be. If your customer is not a first time purchaser, they probably already know that pipes are not that cheap. These are your guys (or gals) who are fully prepared to pay the price for a high quality piece. A collector will also be more willing to pay a heavier price for that perfect pipe.
Age may also play a role in how much a smoker is willing to spend on a new pipe. Someone younger may be a beginner smoker and could just be looking for a cheaper piece to get started on. On the other side, an older and more avid smoker could be looking to purchase a more functional high quality piece.
If you’re dealing with a new smoker who is looking to purchase their first piece, and who also is willing to pay a decent price, then it would be smart for you to focus on a minimalist, yet very sturdy, borosilicate piece. This may seem like a larger investment now, but in the long run that customer is going to trust your judgement and come back later on to experiment with add-ons and adapters. A good heavy duty borosilicate glass piece can grow with a new user.
In the long run, purchasing a water pipe or hand pipe is just a matter of personal preference. As a smoke shop owner, you are well-versed in all the existing options and pieces. This will allow you to better help your customer, no matter what kind walks through the door. All-in-all, a smoker should not have to give up functionality for collectability, but it all comes back to getting to know your customer and their use interests.
I hope this article helps you better understand how to assist your customers and recommend the best piece for them. At the end of the day, if your customer is satisfied with their purchase, whether it was their first piece or their 100th, you’ve made the right recommendation. A happy customer is more likely to come back for another purchase. (See Help Scout for great stats and tips on customer service)
Thank you for reading! Choice Wholesale is a wholesale water pipe distributor to smoke shop, head shop, convenience store, and gas store owners. We offer the best of the best in water pipes, spoon pipes, accessories, grinders, cigarette filling machines, and much more! All of our water pipe and hand pipe selection is hand picked by glass experts and sells at competitive, cheap wholesale pricing.
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