Vapor cigarettes may seem to some like a trend item or a fad this will pass. This was especially the case years ago, before Blu Cigs was bought up for $130 million. That opened a lot of eyes as to just how valuable the market for vapor cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, had become.
That sale showed that Big Tobacco was buying in, but it neglected to point to the wave of consumers who were leaving cigalike systems in search of more. In search of the best ecig juice they could find and systems powerful enough to give them the full experience that they were searching for.
That side of the ecig business really exemplifies the entire move toward vaping and away from smoking. The fact is the popularity of vapor cigarettes came about in a true grassroots format, starting first with online ecig sales and continuing to be pushed from the consumer end. It was smokers who were out there looking for an alternative, as much or more so than companies were looking for customers. It really did create an atmosphere that felt revolutionary, and to many of us it still does. This type of feeling is what Hon Lik, the creator of the modern ecigarette, was talking about when he said, “E-cigarettes are a consumer-driven revolution.”
Vapor Cigarettes Creator Touts Consumer Influence
We agree with Mr. Lik, but we also think that vapor cigarettes were and are a consumer-driven revelation. It was in this promised land of vapor cigarettes where so many dreams grew for then current and soon to be ex-smokers.
This new invention was like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However you describe it, the impact that vapor cigarettes made even early on was simply remarkable. It was like nothing we had seen before when it comes to alternative options to tobacco and it quickly showed itself to be that disruptive technology that everyone strives to bring to market.
Yet when it did hit the market it came in small, but steady, drops. This was before the days of Blu Cigs even; this was when no real brands existed. You could find hints of this new device on some forums and then the products themselves started making their way onto ebay. As people got a hold of them, many realized the potential. Even though the first vapor cigarettes often were prone to malfunction or simply wouldn’t produce enough vapor. Others tasted terribly, nothing like the best ecig juice on the market today, or even a mediocre ecig juice brand. But people got it early, because when they were able to find something that worked decent enough for their needs, they saw the immediate impact it made in their goal of switching away from traditional tobacco cigarettes.
A revolution was on its way. From the ground up, people were buying and others began importing. A snowball effect was quickly underway, as dozens of entrepreneurs tried to get into this industry that was in its infancy. The result was many of the first brands to make a name for themselves in the online shopping world. Blu Cigs was formed, as was Green Smoke and a number of other pioneering companies. They brought with them the idea of simplicity with the two-piece system, what we now like to call cigalikes. Again, this was all due to the consumer and what they wanted and needed.
That’s the difference here because, especially up until that point, vapor cigarettes weren’t really being advertised anywhere. There seemed to be more people that wanted them than anyone would think given the small amount of marketing dollars and efforts these new companies were investing. Consumers were essentially creating a market for them, driving a level of growth that was astounding but also difficult for some to handle. Bad customer service and fly-by-night companies took advantage of many before the cream rose to the top and gave consumers the choices they were yearning for.
It didn’t stop there, because the nature of consumers in this market is that of knowing what they want and need. You can’t market an ecigarette to people that won’t fit the needs they have. This isn’t selling them a new TV where they can be convinced that the snazzy features will make the experience more enjoyable. No, we are talking about an ingestible product that creates an alternative to smoking. For this, smokers know exactly what their body needs and what their mind does as well. You can’t just win someone over with commercials for lower nicotine vapor cigarettes if they have tried that and know they need more nicotine for it to be effective. It just won’t work.
Ecig Brands Are Guided By Consumer Needs
This is why the consumers drove the vapor revolution, not the brands themselves. It was exactly what a market should look like, with companies scrambling to create a better ecig product that more people would like, rather than scrambling to figure out how they can market a product in a way that everyone will want it anyway.
If every consumer product were developed in this type of a format, we would likely have much better products that actually fit what we need. We probably would be spending less on stuff we don’t need either!
As far as we have come with consumer guidance, we aren’t done with it. So Big Tobacco creates brands like Vuse and MarkTen and buys brands like Blu Cigs and Green Smoke. They are all cigalike systems and, while they will get their fair amount of sales, they aren’t matching the demand of many consumers for open type systems. People want to choose that best ecig juice to their taste buds and put it in a system that gets them the performance they want, with the proper tradeoff of being more complicated or confusing. They just want the freedom to choose, which has always been a major selling point of vapor cigarettes from the very beginning.
Even as Big Tobacco is lobbying to keep these open systems out, we can see that consumers are leading the charge yet again. Sales are up in that part of the industry more than the cigalikes part of it. Even with the increased advertising for these Big Tobacco owned brands, consumers are going out of their way to choose what works for them, because a commercial can’t convince their taste buds of what they want. Not to mention the throat hit need and other aspects of vaping that can highly affect the user-end experience.
We’re sure that when Hon Lik dreamed up this device that he believed could help him with his smoking, and could have helped his father avoid his smoking-related death, he didn’t imagine this. Not many products have such a path. Corporate America is used to shoving ideas down our throats via billions of dollars of advertising. This is an industry that turns that on it’s head. No, vapor cigarettes do not follow that path at all. Vapor cigarettes are a consumer-driven revelation and we couldn’t be happier for it.