Last year was a big year for electronic cigarettes. In addition to ramped-up marketing (including the first television advertising for the product), the category also saw increased scrutiny from governmental agencies and watchdogs, about how the products should be used and marketed. If 2013 was any guide, 2014 should be an important year for electronic cigarette manufacturing.
“The category is starting to finally come into its own,” says Michael Fernandez, founder of Factory 360, an experiential marketing agency that counts among its clients e-cigarette marketer NJOY. “[It’s] a revolutionary product [that has] none of the bad byproducts of tobacco cigarettes.”
However, any product that even remotely resembles cigarette smoking is likely to be subject to increased scrutiny, and e-cigarettes are no different. In one of his final acts as New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg signed a law banning the use of electronic cigarettes indoors. Similar bans are already in place in New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah, and many other local municipalities, and are being considered in Chicago and Los Angeles.
“I see more restrictions being placed on the category,” Fernandez tells Marketing Daily. “Since it’s a new category that looks like an old category, there’s a lot of miscommunication and misinformation.”
Regardless, the industry is gearing up to address those concerns. First will be efforts to combat the misinformation by revealing the “true facts” of e-cigarettes, primarily that they do not come with second-hand smoke or dangers to non-smokers, Fernandez says. The industry will also likely continue to focus its marketing efforts on current smokers looking to quit “analog cigarettes,” while touting themes such as individual rights.
“We’re going to lead with what we do best,” Fernandez says. “It’s up to the industry, and it’s up to the consumers to have a well-educated point-of-view. [Entities that equate] electronic cigarettes with tobacco are pre-judging an entire category.”