In 2003, the first e-cigarette (vape) was invented as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes and paved the way for the vaping industry that is widely known today.
Since its inception, vaping has become widely popular on a global scale, but not without controversy. Today, the vaping market involves far more than smokeless tobacco, although most of the market still focuses on providing safer tobacco alternatives.
Why is the vaping industry important?
Although vaping carries its own set of potential risks for consumers, there are several potential benefits to choosing vapes over combustible substances like tobacco or marijuana:
- Convenience – For many users, vaping enables a much more convenient way to ingest their substance of choice. Whether nicotine, THC, CBD, or just flavored juices, vaping allows individuals to smoke inside their residence or at events (when permitted) without leaving foul odors or chemicals behind. It does not leave the end-user smelling like smoke, benefiting those working in an office setting or living near others.
- Cessation – Many smokers have used vaping to quit or replace combustibles entirely and have found the vapor soothing in some instances. For those who have grown fond of the sensations associated with real smoke, vaping seeks to provide that sensation with a presumably safer delivery method.
- Medicinal Delivery – Vaping’s application as a delivery route for different medicines has witnessed tremendous success over time. For individuals who have difficulty processing drugs without experiencing nausea or just have trouble swallowing, vaping provides a fast and effective method to meet their needs.
- Safety – Although the long-term effects are not fully understood, vaping is commonly viewed as a safer alternative to tobacco or other combustibles. Additionally, because vapor dissipates much faster and easier than real smoke, there is less chance of harming other individuals with secondhand smoke.
No matter the application, the vaping industry is crucial because it addresses a need. The vaping industry is rapidly changing, from smoking alternatives to drug delivery, and will likely see great success for years to come.
Trends in the vaping market
The vaping industry will continue to evolve alongside society, whether it’s a new device, product, or style; every year, key players in the vaping sector release something new, and the future likely won’t be any different. While the vaping market continues to evolve, some of the most significant trends in this space will impact the industry forever.
- Shapes & Size – As manufacturing processes in the vape industry have evolved, the ability to introduce smaller, longer-lasting vapes for users has allowed the market to expand exponentially. The first public offerings of vapes were cheap and resembled the likes of a cigarette, hence the term e-cigarette. Additionally, they did not last long, so consumers were inclined to purchase multiple at once or make numerous trips to their local supplier. Today, vapes exist in various shapes, sizes, and colors that appeal to a wide range of audiences. Brands like JUUL, Posh, Cali Plus, Puff Bar, and more have established many different sizes for consumers to choose from, allowing individuals to select a vape depending on their needs. Furthermore, the flexibility in manufacturing has enabled brands to customize the tips of vapes and bring end-users a variety of experiences around mouthfeel and inhalation.
- Nicotine Salts – E-juices, the fluids used in vapes to produce a smoke-like effect, are typically created using propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin. These bases are infused with flavorings and nicotine to produce the desired outcome. Unlike the traditional nicotine used in vapes (freebase nicotine), nicotine salts form when introducing an organic acid like benzoic or citric acid. This additional acid lowers the pH of freebase nicotine and provides a more pleasant experience to the end-user. The introduction of nicotine salts in the vaping industry has made vaping more accessible to first-time users by limiting the harsh effects that previous liquids had on the lungs and throat. Bridging this gap has vastly expanded the potential market for companies in this space.
- Disposables – With the widespread adoption of vaping, many organizations have utilized re-branding techniques to leverage high-volume private label suppliers and sell disposable vapes on a large scale. This technique has made vaping much more accessible to consumers and has placed disposable vapes at nearly every gas station or smoke shop in the US. With the introduction of disposable vapes, end users now have a wide selection of brands, colors, shapes, flavors, and sizes that they can choose.
- Flavors – The flavors available in disposable vapes and e-juices have come a long way since their creation. Initially, the flavors used in vapes mimicked the taste of tobacco, which led to the distribution of tobacco, menthol, and mint-flavored juices. As the market evolved, brands and hobbyists began to formulate e-liquids that imitated almost any flavor imaginable. From strawberries to garlic, the evolution of e-liquid has given consumers the option to vape just about any flavor they choose; however, fruity and menthol-based flavors are some of the most widely consumed flavors in the industry.
Opportunities in the vaping industry
There are a tremendous number of opportunities in the world of vaping. As manufacturing capabilities grow more advanced and advancements in e-liquid formulation continue to progress, brands have much more elbow room for differentiating themselves in the market. Some of the most promising areas in the vaping market include:
- Healthier juice formulations – Consumers are looking for e-liquids and juices that contain fewer additives and more organic compounds like vegetable glycerin.
- Cannabis – The cannabis industry is growing at an alarming rate. The introduction of cannabinoid-based e-liquids has created a massive market potential for companies entering the recreational or medicinal marijuana industry.
- Private labeling – Private labeling of disposable and re-chargeable vapes has made the industry much more accessible to players who do not have the capital to invest in manufacturing equipment or supply chain. Whether as a supplier, or distributor, private labeling in the vaping industry has made a tremendous impact on the market’s landscape.
Challenges in the vaping industry
- Health Concerns – Because vaping is a relatively new concept, researchers have not had ample time to understand its full impact on short-term and long-term health. With the potential to damage the lungs, heart, throat, and more of consumers, organizations in the vaping industry must be cautious about the suppliers they choose.
- Regulation – Increasing regulation around the formulation, design, packaging, and distribution of vapes has made it increasingly difficult for organizations to navigate and understand the market they serve. Companies in this market must be cautious about their advertising techniques and the chemicals they use in vapes to ensure they do not appeal to children and open doors for potential lawsuits.
- Competition – Due to the growing popularity of vaping, more and more players are entering the space each day. Restricted by regulations on marketing and advertisement, brands must continue to find ways to stand out in the crowded market while remaining compliant with any legal authority.
What is Vaping Market Research?
Vaping market research provides organizations a comprehensive view into the trends, competition, outlooks, geographies, and global policies surrounding the vaping industry and helps brands better position themselves to compete within or against this market. Organizations entering the vaping market without knowledge surrounding their target consumers will have a difficult time establishing differentiation.
Conducting qualitative research surrounding the vaping industry can enable brands to understand their intended consumers’ lives better and create products that suit their needs. Product testing, in-home use tests (iHUTs), central location tests (CLTs), focus groups, and in-depth interviews (IDIs) can give companies access to their end-users’ thought processes and help them position themselves strategically within the marketplace.
Executing quantitative research in the vaping industry will provide brands with a statistically significant, numerical depiction of the market they serve or intend to. Conducting satisfaction surveys, demographic research, and more will allow companies to predict, control, or describe variables of interest. These analyses enable fact-based predictions that will allow companies to define their target audiences better, understand their different offerings’ pros and cons, and create better products and campaigns.
Utilizing or performing market research in the vaping industry is essential because it enables organizations to create a macroscopic view of their market and formulate strategic, well-defined business plans backed by empirical evidence. Without these insights, organizations frequently make ill-informed investments into different sectors of the vaping industry. These decisions can be tough to recover from if not identified early on. Vaping market research helps companies avoid these issues by adequately informing brands on their best next steps and put them on a path to success.