The estimates of current e-cig usage and forecasts of growth in sales continue to be revised upwards, with the latest from Wells Fargo suggesting U.S. sales for 2013 will be $1.8 billion, $10 billion by 2017, and surpass cigarette consumption in less than 10 years.
Here is an article about these forecasts from the Winston Salem Journal.
Dr. Michael Siegel also refers to the forecasts and makes a point about the possible risks of the anti-smoking community trying to fight against this consumer demand and in doing so losing the bigger battle – reducing cigarette consumption, and at the same time risking their reputations and credibility.
It may be helpful to consider why e-cigarettes have been so successful in such a short time, why e-cig usage has grown so quickly, resulting in reducing cigarette consumption that had held steady despite years of anti-smoking ads and bans. There are 4 main reasons – appeal, effectiveness, competition and distribution.
e-Cig Appeal – first and most importantly, e-cigarettes are appealing to the consumer who the product is aimed at. This is the first rule of business, to find a need and fill it. E-cigarettes provided a tool that gave smokers some of the same satisfaction of smoking, but they did not have the same social stigma as cigarettes. In surveys, smokers try e-cigarettes and continue to use them because they believe e-cigs can help them reduce or quit smoking, e-cigarettes are healthier for them, and e-cigs don’t have the negative side effects that result from smoking. Some of the more common positive benefits mentioned are improved breathing, fewer sore throats and coughing, improved sense of smell and taste, and elimination of the bad breath and unpleasant odors. The nicotine patch, nicotine gum, or drugs like Chantix simply do not fulfill the same needs for smokers. This isn’t brilliant marketing but instead is very good product development. e-Cig usage is tied directly to consumer need.
e-Cigarette effectiveness – If e-cigs were just a placebo, they probably wouldn’t have grown in acceptance so dramatically with e-cig usage now forecast to exceed cigarettes within the decade. However, more research is showing that e-cigs are quite effective in meeting the specific needs smokers had when they chose to try e-cigs. A recent study from New Zealand showed that e-cigs were more effective than the nicotine patch in helping smokers quit, and even for those that didn’t quit they reduced their smoking by 50%. Another study from the U.S. showed that 70% of participants had quit smoking after 3 months while using an e-cig. This study was funded by an e-cig company, so the results need to be understood with that in mind, but it does corroborate what others have also seen in terms of effectiveness. Other research is currently actively being done on this topic, and plenty of anecdotal evidence supports the fact that e-cigs are an effective alternative.
Competition – Because of the consumer demand, competition has grown resulting in many different brands of e-cigs, and heavy promotions. Rather than seeing this negatively, perhaps this should be considered as a silver lining for anti-smoking groups. E-cigarette companies are aiding the efforts to reduce cigarette consumption by spending on advertising, marketing and promotion.
Distribution – retail is still the king of distribution. For the first several years in market, e-cigs were exclusively sold online. While revenues continued to grow, it was only when retail distribution opened up for e-cigs that revenues have really skyrocketed. Having these products available for smokers at every convenience store, gas station, and other retail location where they buy cigarettes has created an industry where already 70% of sales are now through that retail channel and only 30% is online. So even if online sales of nicotine based e-cigs is restricted or banned, the growth in the e-cig industry, and e-cig usage will continue to grow.
So e-cigs are fundamentally changing the tobacco industry, and it is clear this is not a fad that will subside. There is too much evidence to support the appeal of the product. But just like the energy drink industry grew from a few brands to what it is today, there is opportunity to meet new needs in the smoker community. Novus Twigs and eTwigs are a better solution. They provide the satisfaction that e-cigs can provide, but they offer a solution that does not contain nicotine or tobacco. BotanicBoost’s proprietary blend of natural herbs and spices delivers throat hit and flavor…it’s the smart smokers choice.