Should Big Tobacco Be Worried About Vape Companies?
by Arina Smith Business Development 29 November 2017
Smoking has been the quintessential cool way to inhale or puff cloudy fumes since the 1960s, but vaping, the modern version of smoking, is its first viable competitor. Just the presence of a competitor in a previously tobacco-dominated market is a problem for Big Tobacco. From solving the drawbacks of smoking to allowing users to customize their vaporizer’s liquid, vaping has lately proven to be much more threatening than just “a competitor”.
So, should Big Tobacco be worried about vape companies? The short answer is yes.
Pros and cons
Setting aside the benefits of vaping, there are many downsides to smoking that just aren’t present in its new counterpart. Strong odors, a raspy voice, bad breath, and serious health hazards are all good reasons not to smoke and the social stigmas associated with these side-effects is another reason. Vaporizers have clean emissions, aren’t bad for people’s’ lungs, don’t cause bad breath, and carry no negative health hazards.
It is the strengths of vaping that allow it to stand out as an alternative to smoking. Functional and discreet, vaping is not only rarely distracting or unpleasant, but can even have a sweet-smelling aroma, depending on the e-juice the user has bought for their device. These different flavors of juices, with fruit flavored and dessert e-liquids being the most popular, also allow vapers a way of expressing themselves, and customizing their vaping experience. The introduction of choice here is far more interesting than the simple choice of menthol vs. non-menthol present in smoking.
Vaping may seem like it may be a profitable alternative to smoking, but it’s not much for Big Tobacco to be worried about unless the vaping industry has the sales to back it up. Well, the numbers are in. According to VaporAuthority, in 2012, vaporizer sales hit $500 million. This figure is impressive considering sales in 2008 were only $20 million. However, the growth has not stopped, and in 2015 vaporizer sales were at least $4.5 billion! These sales represent a huge loss for Big Tobacco.
Although vaporizer sales are taking a relatively small amount of money from Big Tobacco compared to their yearly profits, that is just in the short term. Those who have switched from tobacco to vaping (a significant portion of vapers) seldom return to smoking, and they represent customers that Big Tobacco has lost forever. Combine this with the fact that vaporizer sales are only growing, and it’s easy to see a worrying trend for Big Tobacco.
What’s cool these days?
Also worrying for Big Tobacco is that it has been replaced as the “cool” activity for people, and especially young people, to do. The spirit of vaping is independence and freedom; a tagline that resonates well with the youth of today. Not only is smoking seen as not cool, but it is vilified by ad campaigns such as the TRUTH campaign, which features such ads as a tobacco executive receiving an award for “Most Deaths in a Year” while being cheered on by historical villains such as Adolf Hitler. Furthermore, Big Tobacco is forced to pay for these ad campaigns.
Plenty to worry about
Big Tobacco has a lot to worry about when it comes to vape companies, such as the problems of smoking that vaporizers solve, the customization of vaporizers, losing sales, and worst of all, losing their user base. However, it is the combination of benefits into the massive and growing appeal of vaping that serves the biggest threat to Big Tobacco. Whereas the smoking community, if one could even call it that, is founded on individuals bound together by their addictions, the vaping community was forged from former smokers, people who simply enjoy the smell and taste of vaping, and many others. Regardless of the walk of life these people come from, they all share in the simple joy of vaping. If anything kills Big Tobacco, it will probably be the vaping revolution and the strong community it has produced.