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For decades people have reached for their cigarettes. Everyone did it. If you didn’t, you’d be the odd one out. Health risks hadn’t surfaced. And even as news slowly trickled down, people ignored the information. Tobacco and nicotine are addictive, after all. Once you start, it’s difficult to stop.
But people wanted something else. They craved a similar product without the serious health risks. And an industry developed around an alternative: e-cigs. Awareness has been growing over the last few years. Interest is skyrocketing. We’re seeing more e-cig and vaping shops popping up.
It has a few obvious strengths. And a few not so obvious weaknesses — unless you’ve tried the product and had issues. Then the weaknesses are glaringly obvious. But there’s hope for this industry with the potential for massive growth. This SWOT analysis about e-cigarettes discusses it all.
Strengths: A lightweight, simple, and healthier alternative
The appeal of e-cigarettes is their biggest strengths. Why wouldn’t people, who love the rich inhale of a cigarette, not clamor to such a similar alternative? Especially when it has less negative health effects?
We all know cigarettes can cause yellow and brown teeth, bad breath, and lung cancer. And yet, that hasn’t caused the cigarette-loving public to kick this toxic habit. That knowledge isn’t enough. Which is why e-cigarettes were developed.
You don’t want to part with nicotine. You also don’t want to spend countless hours in the hospital because of it. Enter e-cigarettes and their cousin, vaping. Vaping is another alternative with fewer health risks. It’s a popular choice because you can do it anywhere, even where traditional smoking is banned because this alternative isn’t smoking. But it’s not even close to providing the same relief that cigarettes offer, which is why e-cigs are still such a viable option.
Many people have become more aware of e-cigarettes, especially in North America and Europe. As the popularity grows, so does awareness. This is great for the industry. Because you can’t sell a product if no one knows it exists. E-cigarettes are in a place where continuous innovation is likely to help their growth and sales too. Who knows how changing flavors and product sizes will positively affect buyers?
Not to mention creating and distributing e-cigarettes is likely a straightforward process. Regulations may affect methods, but right now, it’s relatively simple. Unfortunately, companies can’t rely on online sales only. Getting into stores is essential for a product to maintain its popularity. Being light and small, they’re easy to transport. And as a cigarette alternative, most interested consumers understand the product, so no excessive explanations are necessary (to a degree). That makes e-cigs an easy sell in terms, at least in an instructional method.
Weaknesses: It’s obviously an alternative
Even though there is interest for e-cigs, it’ll only ever be an imitation of the real thing. Many users of the product don’t get satisfaction when they inhale from an e-cig. It’s not the same. And because it’s not, since it doesn’t offer the same feelings, some go right back to real cigarettes.
Why isn’t it enough? No one is really sure. Some blame nicotine, specifically how it only tastes like an imitation rather than a real cigarette. Sure, that’s what e-cigs are. But no one wants to be reminded of that in the moment of using it.
The nicotine flavor may be compromised by a faulty tank system in the e-cigs. If there’s a leak, it may affect the taste. Whatever it is, it rarely ever feels “enough” or “right.” People don’t want to waste money this way. The pool of potential buyers shrinks. With this one bad experience, they may never try an alternative to cigarettes again.
If manufacturers are in a fantastic position to fix this problem. Whether it be by altering the physical product or implementing nicotine. It’s obvious something is wrong and now is the time to transform this product into the alternative smokers really want.
And although I mentioned how the product is relatively simple, it still manages to be riddled in misconceptions. People know e-cigs are an alternative to cigarettes. They know it’s supposed to be “better” than the traditional option. But information regarding regulations, nicotine, distribution, and safety are all stuck in a cloud of confusion.
Opportunities: Consumers want to know more
Obviously, despite the issues, people are still interested in e-cigs. Interest is paramount to building a strong foundation of loyal consumers. With the inevitable improvements to this product, we’re bound to see that interest skyrocket. From battery consumption to enhanced vaping procedures and adjustments to nicotine tank systems: A better e-cig system may put buyers’ mind at ease.
Companies can also provide more information about their product to stem the flow of confusion. Many people, especially smokers, are less likely to invest in a product if they don’t understand it. Considering health officials and research hasn’t been the most consistent lately, companies can guide wandering consumers towards relevant and accurate information. And not just them. They can also educate policy-makers, smokers (and non-smokers), and thought leaders. Non-smokers won’t convert, but their opinion and views matter, especially when forming policies.
Simpler regulation, mixed with more awareness of the product and less vocal disagreement for the use of e-cigs is likely to be a major benefit to distributors.
Threats: Real and invisible health concerns
E-cigs are bound by regulations. Slowly, the current measures are favoring this smoking alternative. But it also depends on where you live. Individual companies may prohibit selling and distribution of e-cigs. Others may outright ban them.
Tobacco control and management are decided by the government. People expect it to affect cigarettes but not e-cigs. They believe e-cigs aren’t a traditional tobacco product. But they’re still treated that way by regulators. Tobacco/nicotine is infused into the container and because of that, policymakers may itch to regulate the product.
Also simmering under the surface is the fear of health risks. That fear could lead to strict policy regulations. It may not be affecting how the masses feel yet, but as more data is revealed and misconceptions exist, that could easily change. Still, although the information is incomplete, e-cigs don’t have as much health risks as tobacco or cigarettes.
But should a report saying otherwise come out, the entire principle behind e-cigs’ development would be compromised. Why would people ever reach for it when they could have a traditional cigarette? The entire industry could easily collapse.