Player 2 has entered the game
Posted on 12 October 2017 by Matt Brown.
With many of the biggest tobacco companies making inroads into the vaping industry, we ask why and whether this is a good thing, a bad thing or just a thing!
Big Tobacco is probably the most universally mistrusted group of mega corporations you’ll find anywhere on the planet. I struggle to think of any individual or organisation that unites so many against them (the 45th President of the United States not withstanding).
For decades, a handful of incredibly wealthy and influential companies have pushed tobacco to millions of smokers, lobbied against regulation and done very well out of it all.
But in the past 10 years or so, the ground has begun to shift under their feet, with the birth of e-cigarettes & vaping as a true disruptive technology that has grown from a dedicated grassroots core, to a billion-dollar industry.
And now we’re beginning to see the effects of those tectonic tremors, with most of the bigger boys in the tobacco game moving towards electronic cigarettes & vaping, or buying e-cig companies outright. The reasons why are obvious.
In the UK alone, there are now around 3 million vapers, a number which has grown exponentially since e-cigs first hit the market back in 2007. According to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics, this is versus a total of 7.6 million smokers (down 1.4% since 2010). In short, the tobacco market is shrinking, and the tobacco companies know it.
With an emergent new product, which is vibrant and growing steadily, readily available, it makes complete sense for tobacco companies to begin to divert their resources, but what they aren’t doing is changing the way they do business, which leads me on to my main point.
Tobacco companies make rubbish vape products.
They are distributors and marketers and lobbyists, but if your last innovation was the cigarette filter in the 70s, you cannot be classed as an innovator.
This fact is self-evident. When you look at where our industry is versus where we began, the amount of product development and innovation is staggering.
Comparing the original cigalike device pioneered by Hon Lik, to the latest 300W box mods is like comparing the Wright Brother’s bi-plane to the space shuttle. There’s an identifiable thread between them, but the evolution of the end product is nothing short of incredible given the passing of just 10 years.
And this has come about due to the concerted efforts of dozens of dedicated vape companies, and enthusiastic individuals, constantly pushing for better performance, safer battery technology, more user-friendly interfaces, higher quality e-liquids, and so on.
The tobacco companies entering the market aren’t interested in the grassroots driven development of vaping though. They’re interested in transferring as much of their business model across to this new technology as they can.
Which is why we see devices that are colourful, or look like coffee pods.The vape is rotten, but the business model demands sealed cartridges sold by the pair – because the expectation is that a vaper’s behaviour should be the same as that of a smoker, picking up your daily fix and paying a premium for the privilege.
What this shows, however, is a basic misunderstanding of why vaping has been so successful in helping to improve the numbers of people successfully kicking tobacco for good.
The freedom to experiment, and finding a setup that offers a bespoke fit around an individual’s needs.
A wider community of like-minded vapers to look to for advice and support.
The knowledge that you’re dealing with a company that’s always striving to offer quality products that offer the best performance possible, and not simply chasing the Pavlovian response of popping down to the supermarket for your daily pack of refills.
That is why some companies see dual usage statistics (smoking & vaping) of over 50% of their customer base, while here at JAC we see an average of 20%. The innovation and breadth of choice does make the difference.
But for all that, the tobacco companies have moved into the market at the best possible time for them. With tougher regulation married with a softening stance among public health professionals who are opening up to the idea of e-cigs on prescription, Big Tobacco knows they alone are in the financial position to take advantage of many first-time vapers.
So, it’s up to us to educate, inform and provide smokers who are on the fence with an alternative that actually works. An alternative that offers the performance they’ll need to successfully quit tobacco. An alternative that has been designed by vapers, for vapers.