The Changing Face of E-Cigarettes in the UK and the US

The e-cigarette market has evolved quite considerably over the past year. Sales continue to grow, whilst tobacco sales continue their decline. However, the way e-cigarette users are spending their money seems to be changing.

Last year it seemed the market was being dominated by US giants such as Blu and Njoy who sell e-cigs that are similar in looks and feel to normal cigarettes, commonly referred to as cig-a-likes. Blu enjoyed a 45.8% domestic market share in 2013, but since then it has seen sales slump and its market share has fallen to around 24% in mid-2014. Increased competition from brands such as Vuse and Markten, will have no doubt contributed towards this decline, but it seems as though there are more fundamental underlying factors at play.

Shifting Consumer Preference

The most common e-cigarette starter kit used to be a cig-a-like and many people still do take this first step when entering the world of e-cigs. The looks and feel of a cig-a-like will feel very familiar to smokers and to many the form factor and convenience of a cig-a-like is very appealing. However, it seems the time people are spending using a cig-a-like seems to be falling greatly. In fact many new vapers are skipping the cig-a-like altogether in favour of larger refillable devices, referred to as vape pens, egos, vaporizers or mods. These devices offer superior a battery life and superior vapor production, leaving the consumer with a much more satisfying experience and leaving them less likely to return to normal cigarettes. However, there will always remain a demand for cig-a-likes, but that demand is falling to a much lower level, and when reached its will remain stagnant.

Rise of the Vape Shops

Whereas users most commonly purchased their e-cigarettes from convenience stores and gas stations, attention is now moving towards vaping stores that are popping up all over the US and the UK. These stores offer a wide range of vaping devices and experienced staff can offer newcomers valuable advice. Most of the time, their advice will steer new users towards the ego type refillable devices as opposed to the cig-a-likes, thus again contributing to the fall in demand for such devices.

Innovation from China

The Chinese e-cig giants have made a huge impact on the e-cigarette market in the last year. Chinese producers such as Kanger, Aspire, Innokin, Joyetech, Eleaf and SMOK are having a massive impact on the worldwide e-cig market with their innovative and affordable products. The intense competition between the Chinese firms has driven down prices and improved the overall quality of their products. Their product offerings are now head and shoulders above the rest of the worlds and they continue to innovate at a frightening pace. Western producers will have their hands full trying to compete with the innovation coming from China.

How is this impacting the UK e-cigarette market?

The UK e-cig market has not been immune to the above trends. As with the US market, less UK vapers are using cig-a-like type devices and less beginners are choosing these devices as their first vaping kits. It has left many brands in a very tricky spot. The best electronic cigarettes in the UK are being made by those brands who are able to keep up with the trends and innovate and only those who can do so, will survive in this now ultra-competitive market. JAC Vapour is one such brand who is constantly coming up with new devices to keep up with the shifting market. Their launch of their series-e device was very popular and has been classed by many as the best e-cig in the UK for beginners and intermediate vapers.

Interesting times lay ahead for the UK and US e-cig markets. Experts predict that while e-cig sales will continue to grow in 2015, this year will be one of consolidation. Many manufacturers and brands will unfortunately go out of business as the e-cig market continues to become more and more competitive. As the saying goes only the fittest will survive and in the case of e-cigs, the fittest are those who can innovate and challenge the norm.

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