“Cig-A-Likes will become a stopgap product”
While tobacco companies were insisting that electronic cigarettes were nothing more than a fad, or a minor fluke at best, comprised of lousy technology, bad tasting eLiquid, and no organization or infrastructure in place, hundreds of thousands of Americans, and untold numbers of smokers in other countries were leaving behind their analog cigarettes and switching to the ‘near-harmless’ electronic cigarettes in droves. Tobacco companies completely missed the boat, and only last year did they appear to wake up and begin making plans to both “stop it and adopt it”. Of course, stopping it was never really an option, and adopting, or rather adapting, will only work so long.
So, are tobacco companies still in the dark about eCigarettes, or do they believe that they are just so big that nothing can stop their powerfully addicting products, least of all the eCigarette? While I may not have the definitive answer, I willing to bet that they are still fumbling their way through and are ignoring some very important data.
Wells Fargo Securities recently said that they believe the eCigarette market is at least twice the reported size, based on research into vape shops, and what they refer to as ‘second and third generation’ products. They say that the total size of the retail market in the US is “at least 2 billion dollars”. I’ll venture to say that they’re right, the size of the vape community is much larger than reported, and they’re also wrong, the number of people who have advanced beyond the cig-a-like is vastly larger than they think.
Sometime in early 2015 we believe sales numbers for this year, 2014, for all eCigarette products will wind up being closer to 3 billion dollars than 2 billion dollars. I believe that Wells Fargo Securities has vastly underestimated the number of people flocking to larger batteries and clearomizers.
What Are Second/Third Generation Products?
These 2nd and 3rd generation eCigarette products are devices that are larger than cig-a-likes, and provide a much better vape experience than the small battery devices do, and it is an area of the market that’s barely talked about in the mainstream media because it doesn’t fit the established narrative. You and I know exactly what this segment of the vape community is, they are us, and we know how vital we are to a healthy and successful eCigarette industry.
As we said several months ago the length of time it takes for vapers to go from a ‘cig-a-like introduction into vaping’ to eGo-sized batteries and larger, is getting shorter and shorter. The reasons are many, but mainly its because cig-a-like users are finding out about larger batteries faster than ever before, and are discovering a much better vape experience lies just around the corner. That is exactly what is happening, only in larger numbers that even Wells Fargo suspects.
Clinging To The Familiar
Tobacco companies are still wagering that the mass market will always cling to the familiar, the cigarette-shaped device that reminds them of their old habits. But that’s not true at all. Oh sure, for a short period of time it is, but it’s getting shorter and shorter all the time. Vaping a cig-a-like feels ‘right’ at first, at least it did for me, but as soon as a cig-a-like user regains their freedom from cigarettes they can’t wait to lose that reminder. The cig-a-like that reminds them of everything they now despise about cigarettes is soon vilified. Who wouldn’t want to dump something that reminded them of early death and disease?
How Do I Know This?
Sure, I’m speculating here, albeit from a fairly educated position. Publishing Spinfuel eMagazine is all about talking to people, finding out what they like, what they don’t like, why they vape, how they quit smoking, when they discovered cig-a-likes, how, why they left them behind, and why they vape larger devices. It’s practically all I do, that and talking to the owners of such businesses.
We’ve all converted smokers to vaping, cig-a-like users to eGo users, eGo users to APV users, and so on and so forth. It is a natural progression for many, as it should be. As good as ‘some’ cig-a-likes can be there is no comparison today between them and, say, a Vision Spinner and an X.Jet clearomizer, for instance.
As the publisher I make it a point to know a lot about the eLiquid vendors out there, especially the ones that help offset the cost of running Spinfuel, and they all have one thing in common. They are busy as hell. At least the good ones are.
The Future Is Us
Big Tobacco (really, I’m getting tired of using that term, aren’t you?) is betting the future of the eCigarette industry is the cig-a-like, but they’re wrong. Maya eCigarettes, (iFill) Triple 7 (Bullet), and Halo Cigs (Triton), among others, have already moved into the eGo-size and larger eCigarettes in anticipation of new vapers finding out that they no longer want to be reminded of cigarettes with cig-a-likes. Yet tobacco companies are still in its infancy with electronic cigarettes and they have a case of tunnel vision when it comes to the product. Just as they were wrong to assume that a cig-a-like was no substitution for the real thing, they are assuming that eGo batteries and APV’s are too complicated, too fussy, and too big for vapers to give up their cig-a-likes. This isn’t going to change anytime soon. By the time they recognize that cig-a-like vapers are only there temporarily it will be too late.
The future, it seems to me, is that the cig-a-like will most likely survive, for a while at least, as a stopgap product. For some smokers the goal will always be to wean off of ALL, for lack of a better word, ‘inhalation’ products, and once off analogs they will drop cig-a-likes. But there will always be an ever-expanding segment of ex-smokers they enjoy the experience of smoking/vaping too much to want to give it up, and as long as prices remain low, quality remains high, vaping will become an even bigger hobby, or pastime, than it is today. And make no mistake about it; tobacco companies will never accept vaping as a full-blown hobby.
If this is the future we want, a future where the hobby of vaping can blossom into something grander than it is now, and Spinfuel eMagazine does indeed want this future, then we must support the vendors that make these quality products.
The eLiquid Vendor Is Key?
We must hold our eLiquid vendors up to a high standard to make sure that the juice we vape is high quality, consistent, safe, and great tasting, and begin to shun those that do not meet our high standards. If we fail to do so then the vendors that spend the money to make sure they produce great juice will not survive. Without these eLiquid vendors we would be left with nothing but prefilled cartomizers, and that means little use for larger batteries, clearomizers, tanks, and RBA’s, the very elements of the hobby of vaping.
Regulations will come, and it is very likely that eLiquid vendors will be required to apply for a license to sell the product and maintain strict quality control. By supporting those companies now you help ease the implementation of the coming regulations. And let’s face it; if someone is still selling eLiquid that isn’t made in a clean and sterile environment by people who actually know what they’re doing, conduct themselves in a professional manner, and understand how careful they must be while handling the ingredients, they don’t deserve your money, and they sure as hell don’t deserve to be in the marketplace. But I digress.
I say let the tobacco companies buy the cig-a-like brands, let them develop their own cig-a-likes, (Vuse) and we’ll just keep right on informing our new vaper friends that there lies a bigger, better adventure in vaping just up the road…just as soon as they decide the cig-a-like is haunting them.