A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF THE PRODUCT FEATURES IMPORTANT TO ADULT CONSUMERS' USE OF ELECTRONIC NICOTINE DELIVERY SYSTEMS
Method: We conducted a qualitative study using 3 focus groups and 5 individual interviews. Participants were eligible if they had used an ENDS at least once. The groups were purposively selected by age and gender (1 young adult group aged 18-25, n=11; 1 middle-age adult group aged 26-64, n=9; and 1 women’s middle-age adult group aged 26-64, n=9). Given few older adults use ENDS, we conducted individual interviews with five older adults aged 64 and older instead of a focus group. Participants were asked to discuss the ENDS characteristics important to them as well as complete a survey which included demographics. We conducted a structured content analysis of the professionally transcribed audio from all focus groups and interviews using ATLAS.ti software. Three coders independently coded the focus groups and interviews. The team discussed and reconciled the coding.
Result: Of 34 participants, 68% were white, 56% female, and 44% had at least a 4-year college degree. We identified 12 ENDS features participants perceived important to their ENDS use, including: 1) User Experience; 2) Social Acceptability; 3) Cost; 4) Health Risks/Benefits; 5) Ease of Use; 6) Flavor; 7) Smoking Cessation Aid; 8) Nicotine Content; 9) Modifications; 10) Regulation; 11) Bridge between Tobacco Cigarettes; 12) Collectability. The young adult group mentioned “Modifications” most often. The middle-age adult group and older adult interviews mentioned “User Experience” most often. The women’s middle-age adult group mentioned “Flavor” most often. Older adults mentioned “Smoking Cessation Aid” as important to their ENDS use more often than other groups.
Conclusion: This study identified 12 product features important to ENDS consumers. Age and gender groups differed in the frequency the various features were mentioned. The FDA regulation (or lack thereof) of specific ENDS features may affect ENDS use by distinct consumer groups in different ways. Further work is needed to understand the relative importance of ENDS features to different consumer groups.