BRISTOL, England -- Competition within the closed-system vaping space is only getting hotter, with Imperial Brands, the owner of blu electronic cigarettes, announcing a new line of pods containing nicotine salts, a move that will reportedly compete with the recent success of rival Juul Labs, according to Bloomberg.
In an interview with Alison Cooper, CEO of the Bristol, England-based Imperial Brands, Bloomberg reported that the company will release the pods in July in the United States and United Kingdom. The pods contain nicotine salts, which allow for rapid absorption of nicotine into the bloodstream, the news agency said. San Francisco-based Juul Labs, which has recently garnered a 68% share of the U.S. market for vaping devices according to New York-based Nielsen, uses a similar nicotine formulation in its products.
“The type of experience Juul delivered was definitely a step forward,’’ Cooper told Bloomberg. “Smokers weren’t switching completely into vaping before, because the experience wasn’t satisfying enough. That’s what we are trying to achieve.”
Here are other developments related to Imperial’s latest move …
Gas prices, Juul hurt blu volumes
Competition from Juul products and the recent rise in gasoline prices has had a negative impact on blu e-cigarette volumes, according to Dan Carr, president and CEO of Greensboro, N.C.-based ITG Brands, a U.S. branch of Imperial. Speaking during a July 2 investor call, Carr used California, its No. 1 U.S. market, to describe the situation, saying the state accounted for 2.5% of their category decline. Of that amount, 1.3% of it was due to “reduced promotion volume” and between 0.5% and 1% was due to competition from Juul.
“You can imagine that the gasoline [prices had an] impact in the U.S.—it’s gone from $2 to $3 for a gallon of gas,” Carr said during the conference call. “That has really impacted the consumer, and we see a direct correlation.”
Carr also noted that recent weeks have shown signs of volume improvement.
Big competitors move into closed vaping
Another major U.S. tobacco manufacturer, Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Distribution Co., announced earlier this year that it launched a closed-system, e-cigarette device called MarkTen Elite. In doing so, it entered a growing and increasingly more competitive field.
Altria Group Distribution Co.
Fontem Ventures, blu e-cigarettes add flavors
Earlier this summer, Charlotte, N.C.-based Fontem Ventures, which is owned by Imperial Brands and manages the blu e-vapor product lines, reached an agreement with Greenville, N.C.-based Purilum LLC to expand the flavor portfolio of the blu brand. Under the agreement, Purilum, a manufacturer of e-liquid concentrates for vaping, will deliver a range of flavor concentrates to the blu brand, as well as provide finished e-liquids for Myblu, a starter kit that includes a device and closed-system flavored pods.