I’ve been surprised that big tobacco companies have been slow to adopt e-cigarettes. There are a few exceptions, but the majors are moving at a glacial pace, failing to take advantage of a booming market. It seems like such an obvious thing — sell tobacco cigarettes to get people hooked and sell a healthier alternative when people want to quit. Have these companies learned nothing from Monsanto?!? Then again, American tobacco companies are so old and slow that perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by their failure to adapt. For now, let’s look at two companies that are cashing in on the e-cig craze: Lorillard and Swisher.
Lorillard might sound like an unfamiliar brand, but you’ve surely seen the company’s products. Newport, Kent, True, Satin, and Maverick are the most famous Lorillard tobacco cigarettes. In April 2012, Lorillard bought Blu Cigs. While they’re far from the best in terms of performance and taste, Blu has some of the best marketing of any e-cig company. Lorillard has turned the marketing dial to 11, with an aggressive advertising campaign featuring Stephen Dorff.
In addition to big marketing dollars, Lorillard is using its retail relationships to get Blu on store shelves. For most (quality) vaping products, Internet stores or specialty shops are the only options. Blu Cigs, on the other hand, can be found at drugstores and groceries. In fact, I could go down the street and pick up Blu Cigs at my local Walgreens if I wanted to. That kind of reach is extremely powerful.
I’m sure that many of you are familiar with Swisher Sweets cigars. A lot of young people like to blend them with…other types of herbal remedies. The company has an e-cig line call e-Swisher, consisting of products that look like cigarettes, as well as those that look like Swisher cigars. Like Lorillard, Swisher has extensive retail relationships and is able to reach a lot of eyeballs.
These two traditional tobacco companies are just the beginning. There’s a great chance that the market will boom, with other traditional tobacco companies releasing e-cig products in the near future. Like Blu, I also expect more celebrity endorsers. Katherine Heigl (pictured at the top of this post) has been vaping for years and even busted out an e-cig on The Late Show with David Letterman (clip below). More recently, Robert Pattinson was spotted using an e-cig. Imagine all the Twilight smokers he could convert?!? The future of vaping would be insured if the world’s most desirable vampire endorsed an e-cig. Hmmmm, I’m going to try to get in touch with his agent.