However, all of this changed when electronic cigarettes sold like candy in a few months. It spread like wildfire all over the world, which caught traditional companies off guard. To say that the market paradigm shifted would be an understatement.
The rise of e-cigarettes—also called vape or Juuls—has greatly affected the tobacco industry in the past few years. It’s changing how tobacco companies move, and it’s definitely going to bring more change in the coming years.
The only question is, what’s going to be more common this year—a traditional or electronic cigarette?
History of E-cigarettes
The concept of e-cigarettes was already suggested back in the 1930s. The first person to ever submit a patent for e-cigarettes was Joseph Robinson in 1927. However, his patent never produced commercialized e-cigarettes or even a prototype.
It was only in the 1960s that a device similar to modern e-cigarettes was created. Herbert Gilbert received a patent in 1965 for prototypes of his creation. Sadly, there was also no commercialization, and it was said that companies during that time waited for the patent to expire.
Plenty of attempts came after that, with more failures than successes.
Finally, in 2003, Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik created the first successful electronic cigarette. Hon Lik created this alternative after seeing his father die of lung cancer after years of heavy smoking. Being a smoker himself, he decided to push through with his idea.
It was commercially introduced by Golden Dragon Holdings, the company this creator was working for.
Since then, more companies have explored producing e-cigarettes, all thanks to the versatility of this product.
How Vape Changed the Tobacco Space Overnight
Don’t get us wrong; traditional cigarettes are still pretty popular these days. The only difference is which generation it’s more popular with.
Expectedly, traditional cigarettes are more popular with older generations. When vaping devices or Juuls came out, most of these stuck with the traditionally rolled ground tobacco. Some may have shifted to the electronic device, but it was not a significant number.
On the other hand, vape or Juuls are more popular with millennials and much younger generations. To them, e-cigarettes were, or are, the hottest items in town. Devices looked like cool items you brought around, either for the function or for the aesthetic.
And since these devices introduced a variety of flavors, it was bound to be more attractive. On top of that, most vaping devices were able to pack more nicotine in one go. One brand, Juul, packed as much one to two packs worth of nicotine in its pods.
The aesthetic, the flavors, and the addictive quality of nicotine contributed to why so many young adults bought one for themselves. Word spread fast among their age groups, and electronic smoking just took over them like a wave.
The trend not only converted the already-smoking teens, but it also got non-smokers trying it out. The popularity of the products alone is enough to get them addicted to it, and soon, it won’t be just the nicotine that will drive the sales.
What This Means for Traditional Cigarettes
Let’s face it, the older generation is declining in number, and soon, their numbers will be insignificant compared to the younger ones.
Unlike older generations, the younger ones grew up with vape as the primary source of nicotine. It doesn’t matter whether it doesn’t look anything like the usual cigarettes that come in packs; it’s their version of a traditional cigarette.
They’ll get used to the flavored smoke and the aesthetic, and soon, it’ll be hard to market actual cigarettes to them. If they don’t mitigate the threat or improve their current standing, future generations will only see traditional cigarettes as outdated and unable to keep up with change.
And this is why it’s disrupting the tobacco space. When the numbers of traditional smokers go down, most of the sales will go down with it.
The ruling tobacco companies are now challenged to step up their game and introduce products that will pull youngsters to their products or risk losing their spot in the industry when the time comes.
As one of the most solid industries for so long, these companies have to find a way to strengthen their sales to avoid becoming obsolete.