By Cory Noles
The struggles of the modern e-liquid manufacturer are real. Quite real.
In any time, to take a product from a simple concept to being successful is difficult — far more than the average vaper understands. Today, the climb is astronomical.
The days of perfect timing are over. Even “unique” flavors are becoming a thing of the past as there are few things that have yet to be done in the field.
Instead of having the right flavor, today’s market is about being “more clean” and having more hype. What makes your brand stand out beyond those that have been dominating the space for years?
Brace yourself for this.
What has happened is that as the e-liquid manufacturing industry has grown from a couple dozen big manufacturers to several thousand small to moderately sized manufacturers, it has begun to mature.
This isn’t a bad thing, unless your product depended entirely on good timing.
What this means for us, is that the vaping industry is taking on the basic business hallmarks that apply to every industry.
Today’s market demands a quality product
There are literally thousands of e-liquid companies across the nation and guess what — many of them make a good product. Adversely, many of them make lousy ones as well. What this means is that simply having a solid line is no longer enough to get your business where you want it to be.
Marketing is necessary
There was a time in the vape space when a good product could outshine its crappy label and cheap bottle. That time has passed. Sadly, it’s no longer “all about the juice.” People need a reason to want to try your product aside from word of mouth. That means they need to see it everywhere — on social media, in magazines and in the hands of the industry’s influencers.
A long-taught marketing principle says that a person has to see an ad or a logo an average of eight times before they will take action. Are people seeing your branding regularly?
People don’t buy e-liquid with your name on it
Locally, Bob’s Coil Suds might do well. If that’s all you want, go for it. However, in the grand scheme of things, your branding should reflect your audience. For example, Boosted is extra attractive to the car crowd. What started as a niche grew into a massive international brand. Bob is not a niche. Bob is a dude who, while probably a great dude, most of us don’t know.
So don’t do it.
Keep the number of flavors you release under control
While in theory, having a line made up of 20-30 flavors seems like it would have something for everyone, it’s a hard if not impossible sell to shop owners and especially distributors.
When your line crosses three flavors, expect it to be about 50 percent more difficult to sell with each you add. The fact is most shop owners aren’t rich and can’t afford to take a $1,500-$3,000 gamble on your product. I’m not saying a line like that can’t work, but it severely limits your field of potential buyers.
The line between unique and unsellable is fine. Very fine. I’ve tried a mountain of juice over the years, and this is a hard fact. Just because you may have formulated the world’s greatest bacon milkshake flavor or the next maple strawberry pizza cake, does not mean people want to vape it. Kudos on your skills, but when people try it and use words like “interesting” and “weird,” they will move on to the next sample.
Flavors need to be something the average vaper would enjoy. It can have a unique twist, but always ask yourself “Would I vape this all day every day?” If the answer is no, move on. EVERY manufacturer/mixologist has left hundreds of quality juices in a cabinet never to be tried again.
Basically, in sharing these tips, I’m just trying to remind everyone that this is a business. Each day it’s becoming more and more like any other. The cause is noble, yes, but without a solid business plan, you may never reach your potential.
Corey Noles is the Editor in Chief of VAPE Magazine. He also owns Busted Knuckle Vapor Fluids and Inked Up E-Liquid Co. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.