Tobacco Road to Innovation

New packaging promises a better consumer experience

By  Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

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E-Cigs Evolve
Not surprising, the electronic-cigarette category is loaded with new product and packaging innovations, maintaining the buzz felt by the industry since the segment’s arrival. Recent product tweaks include soft tips for a more natural feel—launched by suppliers such as Swisher and 21st Century Smoke—and flip-top packs for better hand feel and what one manufacturer calls the “fiddle factor.”

NJOY, Scottsdale, Ariz., recently introduced a five-pack of its disposable e-cig. The pack is $10 cheaper than buying the e-cigs individually, according to Roy Anise, executive vice president of NJOY. A five-pack retails for about $30, with a base price of $5.99 per pack; buying five single packs would run a customer about $40, with a base price of about $7.99.

“The five-pack is the same width as a pack of factory-produced [tobacco] cigarettes, and it has a nicer feel than an actual pack of smokes,” Anise says. He recommends retailers work with front-line employees to ensure they communicate the five-pack value to consumers.

NJOY’s new flip-top box looks more like a traditional cigarette pack. Anise says the inspiration for the package emanated from “people in our organization that have deep experience in this category.” He calls the consumer experience with a flip-top “the ‘fiddle factor,’ ” because users can open and close it, and it actually feels good in their hands.

“The flip-top box also helps protect the product better,” says Anise. “Users can plop the pack down on a table in a restaurant or bar. It’s on display in public, and people tend to ask about it.”

Headlines wrote themselves this summer when Reynolds announced it was getting into the e-cig game. Smith says Reynolds mulled making acquisitions for an e-cig brand “but at the end of the day, we realized we can do this and do it better.”

Enter Vuse. Powered by what R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. calls “smart digital technology,” Vuse made its debut in Colorado markets over the summer.

Vuse incorporates automated manufacturing to ensure a consistently reliable cartridge, and it will be sold in a rechargeable format. The price for a Vuse Solo will be about $10; the Vuse System will likely cost around $30, and cartridges will be sold in two-packs for about $6.

Designed and assembled in the United States, the manufacturer is able to “meet economies of scale, and we also have a recycling program. [For] people who finish using the product, we will send a prepaid mailer that enables them to recycle for no charge,” Smith says.

Outside of product innovations, e-cig makers are generating buzz by stacking their teams with seasoned tobacco experts and deep-pocketed investors.

In late July, LOGIC Technology, Livingston, N.J., announced former Altria exec Miguel Martin was joining the company as president. With 18 years in the industry, Martin most recently served as senior vice president of field sales, running the largest tobacco sales and distribution organization in the United States, responsible for Philip Morris USA, UST and John Middleton’s tobacco products.

“This is a pivotal moment in the electronic cigarette industry, and I’m thrilled to be joining LOGIC’s team at a time of great opportunity for the industry as a whole and particularly for LOGIC and its trade partners,” Martin said at the time of the announcement.

No doubt the e-cig segment continues its role as the “wild West” category, and there will be no shortage of evolutions and innovations. Alluding to manufacturers’ focus on consistency, “focus groups I’m aware of fail to put ‘consistent puffs’ in the top five concerns that should be addressed,” says Maiellano. “I do believe there are other manufacturers working on potential breakthrough technologies but, again, time and consumer preference will ultimately determine success.”

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