Ever since the electronic cigarette has arrived on the scene as an initial smoking cessation device, big tobacco has had reason to be concerned. While nothing of any material import has been heard from the giant tobacco companies, Lolliard did purchase Blu Cigs recently, one of the early leaders in the e cigarette movement.
The electronic cigarette industry is beginning to flex its muscles now, and we will probably see more of big tobacco’s interest as the market continues to mature. Just recently, Reynolds American, the maker of Camels came out with its own line Vuse last July, and in Colorado where they ran a test market obliterated all of the other e cigarette markets, including Blu, the then leader.
The dedicated e cigarette companies still feel that they will come out on top because of their proprietary experience of being first in the marketplace, and their loyal customer base. However, big tobacco is still just knocking on the door.
It would be fair to say that the marketing power of big tobacco has barely opened one eyelid in its governmentally imposed ban on advertising on TV, print, and radio, and is eyeing a plum that could well be the next major economic boom.
There are three huge advantages that the big tobacco companies have that will be dominant in the up and coming contest. They have very deep pockets and they are very good at advertising. Watch for the promotions in 2014 that will start the movement. Their distribution networks are immense. For example, Reynolds has a base of over 12 million customers to whom they can market directly, and all of these people are smokers. It is smokers who primarily become customers of e cigs. Thirdly all of the wholesale and retail outlets of the current tobacco sales will instantly have their brand of e cigarettes for sale soon.
It will be a very interesting battle, but one that the companies with all of the advertising clout and money will be likely to win. If you were the owner of an up and coming e cigarette company, and your annual sales were up to $3 million per year, and big tobacco comes along and offers you $200 million for your company, what would you do? Interesting question, right?
The electronic cigarette is basically nothing more than a hollow tube, or a similar type of device that holds a glycol liquid that is atomized to form a vapor, that is inhaled and exhaled by the user. The vapor looks like and acts like cigarette smoke. It is totally harmless, and is more like breathing in a little cool steam, than anything.
Flavors can be added to the vapor, such as lime, lemon, apple, cinnamon, cherry, blueberry, mint, menthol, peppermint, cigarette taste, and yes nicotine. Nicotine is not a flavor, but the real thing. It can be added at different strengths, thus many have used e cigs as a means of getting off of tobacco cigarettes by starting at a higher strength, and then tapering off.
Electronic cigarettes and e-liquid have become a social statement. It is now considered ‘in’ to be ‘vaping’, and a totally new conversation has emerged with the subculture of this phenomenon. The devices are morphing away from just a cylindrical device into all kinds of different shapes and colors.
There is little doubt that we are witnessing an entirely new and exciting industry in its earlier stages of development. There is a definite excitement about it and smokers see a new way to enjoy their habit with much less risk to their health.