RICHMOND, Va. -- Get ready for a major tobacco player to take a cannonball dive into the pool of vaping innovation.
With the recent explosion of the Juul closed-system vaping device in the convenience-store channel, major tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc., parent company of Altria Group Distribution Co., both based in Richmond, Va., announced it will enter the closed-tank segment with a product called MarkTen Elite. The product is described as “a pod-based product with a premium, sleek battery design” and having the “convenience of prefilled, magnetic click pods.”
In comments made Feb. 21 to the Consumer Analysts Group of New York, Howard Willard, COO of Altria Group, said MarkTen Elite’s pods contain more than twice the liquid of San Francisco-based Juul’s closed-system device and that over the next few weeks, Nu Mark, Altria’s vapor subsidiary, will bring MarkTen Elite in five flavors to more than 6,000 stores. Further expansion is planned for later in the year. Richmond, Va.-based Nu Mark is also testing several other closed-tank products in 2018, he said.
According to New York-based Wells Fargo Securities, e-cigarette dollar sales rose an “impressive” 97% for a four-week period ending Jan. 27, with Juul leading the way with a 49.6% market share in New York-based Nielsen’s all-channel statistics.
“Nu Mark has a diverse product portfolio and a pipeline of promising products in development," Willard said. "We believe it is well positioned to achieve long-term leadership in the category, bolstered by our companies’ world-class marketing, sales and distribution and regulatory capabilities.”
Here’s a recap of several vaping companies playing in this new space ...
The rise in what Management Science Associates (MSA), Pittsburgh, identifies as vaporizers began in the beginning of 2017, starting from a slow trajectory throughout 2016. Over a 13-week period ending Sept. 30, 2017, unit volume of vaporizers shipped to c-stores jumped 637%, MSA reported. Juul claimed a dominant market share over the past several months, according to Nielsen figures.
Known for its pioneering TV commercials about the vaping lifestyle, Charlotte, N.C.-based Fontem Ventures has put its blu electronic cigarettes into the consciousness of many American consumers. At the NACS Show in Chicago last fall, Fontem showed c-store retailers its new myblu starter kit.
In 2015, Teaneck, N.J.-based Japan Tobacco International bought Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Logic, which produces a closed-system product called Logic Pro that is part of the competitive vaporizer mix in the United States. It also recently launched Vapeleaf, in which heated vapor passes through real ground tobacco.
Meanwhile, other new and established competitors are jockeying for a spot in the closed-system vaporizer space. San Clement, Calif.-based Space Jam Juice recently introduced a closed system called The Byrd, while an e-cigarette stalwart, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based NJOY, is trying to reclaim its momentum, having emerged from bankruptcy last year.