Why POD Mods Don't Work In The UK

Published by Matt Brown on 22nd Jul 2019

What is a POD Mod?

It’s basically a very clever concept that allows a tiny device to provide all day vaping and satisfaction in a simple plug and play form. It’s a great idea and has been very effectively implemented by companies like Juul in the USA. They solved all the issues of the previously popular but in decline ‘cigalikes’ and have the market share in the US to prove it; they made e-cigs simple, small, effective and accessible at any technical level.

Why then, in the UK, despite new POD Mods being released every month has any one device failed to capture the market to the same extent?

After a lot of talk and grand ambitions, the UK audience has failed to adopt the form factor in the same quantities as our American cousins. Subsequently, we’ve seen the price of POD devices and PODs fall dramatically since launch in an attempt to win users over. We’ve also seen Big Tobacco’s efforts to mimic the form factor fall flat to the point they are practically giving the products away.

Is the UK consumer really that different from the USA in their wants and needs? Or is the reality that the product sold in the UK is entirely different in its effectiveness from the US style device?

To understand the differences, we need to know a few things about our country:

- The UK market is governed by TPD and there are a few key differences that make devices designed for the US or other markets less effective.
- Yes, they can look slick and come with great marketing, but do they really provide the experience that is going to be effective and satisfy the users’ needs?

To understand why the effectiveness is so radically altered in the UK versions of popular products, we need to look first at what makes the product work in the US market.

Why POD Mods are more successful in the US?

POD Mods, in general, have small batteries and small tanks. Most available on the market have battery capacities of 300-500mah, and the tanks have a capacity of around 0.7-1.5 ml of pre-filled liquid, fitted with a 1.5 ohm coil. They sit between a cigalike and an ego effectively in regard to specs, but also have all the same issues associated with those devices:

- They have low power output
- They have batteries that require re-charging multiple times in a day, and
- Have PODs/cartridges that needed replaced multiple times in a day.

It’s for this reason that most users moved away from this style of device and onto bigger mods, with bigger refillable tanks and batteries.
However, POD makers like Juul came up with an ingenious way of fixing this in the USA:

- They upped the nicotine content to 59mg/ml in order to make up for the short comings in all the other departments.
- The ultra-high nicotine level in the US means you vape on it less
- Meaning the small battery and the small tanks lifespan is extended to workable levels while still maintaining the amount of nicotine delivered.

Why this doesn’t translate in the UK?

In comparison, due to the TPD regs in the UK, the nicotine level in the UK versions are limited to 20mg, so it contains a third of the nicotine levels found in US devices.

- Meaning you are going to use the device 3 times more
- And empty the battery and tank 3 times as quickly.

If the US version gets you through a day then the UK version is only going to get you through a couple of hours, ergo you have to carry multiple pods and batteries, or re-charge constantly.
Not only that but the cost of running the thing just tripled.

It’s not surprising that the UK prices of the same products had to be adjusted downwards so quickly. Even if the slick marketing hooks 100,000s of users, customers may exit the product as quickly as they entered once realising the reality of the eye watering running costs. And with cost being cited as the biggest concern by UK smokers for switching to vaping – you can see why this might perpetuate consumer concerns.

The fact is the TPD makes POD Mods an entirely different proposition in the UK and other EU countries where the TPD is in effect.
The regulations take a really effective product and stifle it back to 2012 levels of performance right from the outset.

What would make POD Mods more effective for the UK market?

For a POD Mod to be effective in the UK, you need to actually design the product for the UK market with all the foibles of the TPD in mind. Otherwise you will always end up with a glorified cigalike with all the same issues, albeit a pretty cool looking one.

The UK market limits Nicotine to 20mg, and a 2ml volume, so the device cartridge/pod has to take full advantage of those limits to reach the same levels as the US counterpart, i.e. 2.1ml, but 2ml at least gets us close.

It also has to provide a ‘next step’ re-fillable POD/cart so that users can progress to a more affordable and sustainable long term solution, once they are comfortable with the fundamentals of e-cigs.

It also has to offer a reasonable sized battery, most users are going to need 800mah a day at least and heavy users will chomp through 2000mah, to keep them from re-charging constantly.
It has to do all this and maintain the compact size, to end up as an effective device for a UK user (at a cost-effective end price point).

JAC's solution to fixing this problem

We looked at what the UK market/user needed and designed our POD Mod offering to be effective for users in that market.

The end results are palm sized devices, a little bigger than a zippo lighter, capable of achieving high performance levels.

The battery in the VIM is 2600mah, that’s 6 times what most POD Mods offer and its body volume only equates to around 3 times the amount, meaning you can vape all day no problem and still not notice it in your pocket. It’s even effective as a sub-ohm device and able to run coils as low as 0.4ohms.

The VIM PODs are filled with 2ml of Nic salt liquid to take advantage of the full limit we are gracefully/ridiculously allowed under TPD and make them as effective as possible.

When the user is ready, a simple swap out from the VIM POD to VIM tank allows progression without the cost of buying an entirely new device (which was important to us in these cost-conscious times). The VIM tank offers multiple coil options, and top fill, so there’s no compromise on features, when making the move to re-filling and managing running costs.

As long as customers know what to expect to meet their own expectations and the end retailer is armed with that knowledge too – then POD Mods can be a bigger success this side of the Atlantic.