The Emergence of Pod Vapes vs. Refillable Vapes

When the popularity of vapes exploded in 2010, interest in this alternative to smoking rapidly grew year on year. However, following a decline in the UK market specifically in 2020, searches for vaping and vape products are climbing once again and are now at their highest ever. With a 70% rise in the last two years, this recent surge in vape interest is proving significant.

The Rise of Vaping

Our recent study into consumer behaviour and search interest shows how adult searchers are now increasingly looking for pod and disposable systems as a preference over refillable vape devices. We explore the data behind this development and examine the potential reasons for these changes in search trends.

  • 2020 saw a 22% drop in interest, lasting for over a year - the lowest since 2015

  • Since 2020, interest in "electronic cigarettes" is now at its highest ever

Graph 1: Google Trends, "Electronic Cigarettes" search term UK, since 2004 - Nov 2022

How Does Search Interest Compare Across the Vaping Category? 

Exploration of our data shows a key finding. The re-emergence of vapes and the reasons behind search growth is being driven by the developing trend and interest in pod vapes. These highly convenient devices are proving popular, and the dramatic rise in searches for pod vapes and disposable style devices is clear.

Search Acceleration of Pods and Disposables

Search Term Percentage Increase Period
Pod Vape 107% 4 Years
Disposable Vape 5000% 4 Years

Table 1: Google trends. Search Data, Collected September 2022

Conversely, search interest in older style refillable systems is experiencing a continual decline.

Vape Device Search Data

Search Term Percentage Increase Period
E-liquid 39% 3 Years
Vape tank 36% 3 Years
Mod vape 40% 3 Years

Table 2: Google trends. Search Data, Collected September 2022

So, what is responsible for this change, and why are adult users now choosing to switch from refillable vapes to pod vapes and disposables? When we look at the data for older types of vape systems, such as reusable vape devices, the apparent lack of satisfaction that directly correlates to searches around common vape device problems may be the cause.

Is Consumer Dissatisfaction the Reason for This Shift?

As adult users encounter issues with their reusable vapes, such as tank vapes, we can see this is driving higher interest for information about more convenient vape systems, and those that potentially come with fewer maintenance requirements.

  • Searchers are looking for answers to questions about the problems they encounter

Here’s what our analysis tells us about search behaviour and patterns across the vaping category.

Common Vape Search Issues

Search Term Search Volume Period
Why does my vape taste burnt? 720 Per month
Why is my vape leaking? 320 Per month
What does no atomizer mean? 210 Per month
How to clean a vape coil 170 Per month

Table 3: SEMrush Search Data, Collected September 2022

Are There Barriers to Switching to a Refillable Vape?

When we dig deeper into the data, the volume of searches around some of the more complex aspects of vaping can be seen in the apparent growth for questions like, "what wattage should I vape at?". This highlights a potential barrier to an adult smoker switching to a refillable vape device. What’s more, these search terms are not associated with some of the more convenient pod vapes and disposable vape devices.

Informational Vape Search Topics

Search Term Search Volume Period
What is vg and pg? 210 Per month
What wattage should I vape at? 590 Per month
Does vape juice expire? 320 Per month
How long does a vape coil last? 320 Per month

Table 4: SEMrush Search Data, Collected September 2022

Fundamentally, this could indicate that when it comes to the learnings required for older and more complicated reusable vape systems, users may experience some confusion. Consequently, adult users are more likely to switch to smoke-free alternatives that don’t require category knowledge or continued device maintenance.


IQOS is not risk-free and provides nicotine, which is addictive. The best decision any adult smoker can make is to quit tobacco and nicotine use altogether. IQOS are not alternatives to quitting and are not designed as cessation aids.


All data cited reflects search volumes taken from Google Trends and SEMrush. When ‘interest’ is mentioned, we are referring to ‘search interest’, the number or volume of searches for a particular term at a particular time period. Data reflects search trends in the UK. Search volumes and Google Trends data were collected across August - November 2022.

Google Trends and SEMrush are publicly available and do not have restrictions on commercial use.


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