Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Electronic cigarettes campaign toward increased acceptance
With the 2012 U.S. presidential election and Hurricane Sandy dominating the news headlines, several recent media stories and coverage of electronic cigarettes indicating their growth toward mainstream consumer acceptance might be lost in the shuffle.
These stories include items in Forbes.com and Convenience Store Decisions about the increasing acceptance of electronic cigarettes in the consumer marketplace, and another about actor Stephen Dorff’s video ad endorsing Blu Cigs as a major way to avoid traditional cigarettes.
In fact, the headline of the Forbes.com story used a rather loaded term in the e-cig world saying that “E-cigs are ready to explode.” Well, those close to the e-cig industry and others might recall stories from early 2012 about some e-cigs supposedly dangerously exploding. Those incidents apparently turned out to be more frivolous than factual as they were due to significant device modifications and little has been heard on the subject since they occurred.
The fact that the fledgling e-cig industry survived that early scare regarding possible product defects now seems like a distant memory. However, it may well be remembered as an early victory in the larger campaign toward electronic cigarette popularity.
The Forbes story focused on White Cloud e-cigs as just one of several of the more successful brands like V2, Blu, NJoy and Green Smoke. It also explores the issue of major tobacco companies becoming more involved in electronic cigarettes.
Some interesting numbers from the Forbes’ story include that White Cloud enjoys 77 percent annual revenue growth, Blu Cigs brought in $30 million revenue in 2011, the e-cig industry generates $250-500 million annually compared to the $100 billion overall U.S. tobacco industry, and 2.7 percent of U.S. adults tried an e-cig in 2010 compared to just 0.6 percent a year earlier.
While Forbes predicts that e-cigs are about to “explode” from a combination of technology and marketing, the trade publication Convenience Store Decisions (CSD) makes a compelling comparison to the energy drink industry.
CSD claims the e-cig industry currently generates about $300 million in the retail with the potential to grow to $1 billion within 10 years, while other industry experts think it could grow even faster.
The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association says there are currently 1.5 million e-cigarette users in the U.S. compared to 46 million traditional tobacco users, with the big difference being that e-cig use is increasing while tobacco-based cigarettes are decreasing.
The story also summarizes regulatory issues facing e-cigs noting that while some smokers may use e-cigs as a way to cut back or quit smoking regular cigarettes, they are regulated more like traditional cigarettes than as a health care option to quit smoking. While government regulation and taxation of e-cigs is being discussed at various levels, it may also stay just talk as long as e-cigs continue remain low profile when it comes to marketing, advertising and promotion, which have been mainly online, word of mouth and smaller promotional efforts until recently.
One higher profile advertising effort in recent weeks is actor Stephen Dorff’s partnership with Blu Cigs on their “Rise from the Ashes” video. While other celebrities and athletes have either more casually endorsed e-cigs or openly enjoyed them publicly, Dorff’s video for Blu has received more media coverage. Blu was also purchased by Lorillard Tobacco earlier this year and helped contribute $14 million in third quarter sales.
Dorff, who has appeared in numerous films and television such as the movies “Blade” and “Backbeat,” was a smoker for 20 years. In the black and white Blu (get it) video ad seen online and on age appropriate cable outlets, Dorff says he now uses Blu Cigs as a “smarter alternative” to cigarettes and that e-cigs will let us “take our freedom back.” The YouTube clip already has more than 14,000 views.
So, as we move on past the elections, hurricanes and toward 2013, electronic cigarette brands and their customers should have reason to be optimistic. However, since nothing is certain these days, E Cig Werks will keep you posted and let us know what you think.