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. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

V2 Cigs keeps it real with variety

One of the many benefits of electronic cigarettes is their variety. Electronic cigarette users enjoy a range of products from more realistic or traditional versions all the way to the most unique and different vaping experiences.  

Some electronic cigarettes definitely provide a more realistic experience than others, so whether that’s good or bad is really up to the consumer. While I’m usually fine with the most simple and basic versions of electronic cigarettes and vaping, other consumers certainly prefer more options.   

A brand offering as significant a variety of products and accessories as anyone in the marketplace right now is V2 Cigs. The Miami-based e-cigarette company’s product portfolio includes starter kits, traveler kits, high-end e-cig products, a women’s brand (Vapor Couture), flavored cartridges, e-liquids and more.

Founded in 2009, V2 Cigs has rapidly grown to be the largest online purveyor of electronic cigarettes worldwide, with corporate headquarters and their own shipping facility in Florida and a staff of more than 100 employees.

Like other e-cig brands, V2 comes with a rechargeable battery, disposable cartridges and battery charges. Each flavor cartridge contains a solution of propylene glycol, water, flavoring and nicotine (in 6mg, 12mg, and 18mg strengths), as well as a nicotine-free option.   

I found that V2 batteries held a charge for plenty of time. Combine that with the fact that the cartridges are dependable and long lasting provide for an excellent e-cig experience. V2 boasts an industry-high standard 4.2V battery across their entire line of e-cigs. 

Since reviews of electronic cigarette cartridge flavors can be as subjective as those for movies or restaurants, I’ll start with two of the basic V2 flavors – Red and Menthol.

With Red as the most standard V2 flavor cartridge, I found the zero nicotine level to be as good as any I’ve sampled. The V2 Menthol was also very enjoyable in both the zero and light (6mg) nicotine levels. 
My two favorite V2 flavors had a soda counter feel as I really enjoyed the Cherry and Cola cartridges, as the taste and feel was the strongest and most realistic. 

Other flavors like vanilla, chocolate, coffee and peppermint were less appealing and realistic to me, but that is also a matter of personal taste. 

Besides the flavor variety, V2 offers a robust line of functional and stylish accessories. While I find the standard flash drive charger most useful, V2 has car chargers, wall chargers and portable case chargers (PCCs). In fact, while other brands offer a traditional “cigarette pack” style charging case, V2 launched a proprietary PCC with a slim profile and ergonomic feel much like an iPhone. Again, more options and selections are available from V2 at reasonable prices. Other V2 accessories include e-cig neck lanyards, which can certainly be a popular feature. In fact, V2 is offering a free pink lanyard as part of its Breast Cancer Awareness promotions this October.

V2 also offers disposable e-cigarettes that were first introduced this summer. They come in packages of one, five, 10 and 20 flavor cartridges with flavor and nicotine levels options. I found the disposable versions comparable to other V2s and one of the best I’ve tried overall.  

Like many e-cig products, V2 has a strong online and social media marketing presence, but is also adding retail outlets such as the recently announced Hudson News Distributors with 10,000 stores in the northeastern United States. V2 also recently announced their expansion to 7-Eleven, Short Stop, QuickStop, Navarro, Mobil, and Hess stores, among other vendors. V2 proudly offers a lifetime warranty and 30-day money back guarantee (if needed).  

While I’m waiting for my wife and her friends to try the V2 Vapor Couture e-cigs for women, I’d expect the quality and variety to be similar to other V2 products, so hopefully more to come on that subject.