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 email@example.com.
Letter From the Editor
Welcome back to another special edition of VAPE Magazine. The subject — all things e-liquid.
When we began planning this issue, we decided it should be a book that vapers and store owners alike would use as a reference for the year to come. Are you or your customers looking for a new pistachio tobacco? You’ll find it here. How about a rice krispy treat? An awesome milkshake? A line of nothing but milk flavors?
This reference guide lists hundreds of brands, what they offer and how to reach them in an easy to navigate system that will help put vapers in touch with new brands they may have otherwise never come in contact with.
We worked to put together a variety of content focused solely on e-liquid and the business to compliment the guide.
I hope you’ll find it to be useful!
From the entire team here at VAPE Magazine, I wish you all an awesome 2017! We’ll see you out on the show circuit!
Thanks for reading,
Editor in Chief
Scenic Vapors: Contributor Corner: Jayson Magbanua @mrpinoykid
By Chris Mellides
Photographer: Chris Starcher @dripmedia
In Frame: Tyler Price @dripping_balls
Location: Swallow Falls State Park, MD
“A healthier body is what keeps us going, and we vapers just have to talk to smokers more about vaping and make them turn away from cigarettes for good.”
Inspired by the friends he’s made on a path to becoming a professional photographer, 22-year-old Washington state resident Jayson Magbanua has always dreamt big.
Enamored with the art world and all of the different mediums it encompasses, populating his college studies with art classes seemed natural to Magbanua.
Educated in traditional photography where he was taught how to shoot on and develop film, the young student took what he learned, and applied his skillset and unique discipline to contemporary photography—which by all accounts is far easier and more convenient than having to rely on dated technology.
Like many in his peer group, the most accessible camera he had in college was the one in his pants’ pocket.
“Back in the day I would only use my phone and I would be pretty stoked with how the pictures turned out,” Magbanua said. “I never owned a camera since last year, I believe, but now that I have one it feels like a dream.”
Armed with his digital SLR camera, Magbanua would often take it with him on hikes and camping trips and found himself being quickly drawn to nature photography.
“When I’m trying to find myself I hike and camp,” he said. “Nature pictures are definitely one of my favorites because of the organic feel to them.”
Magbanua found that exploring the outdoors became more enjoyable when he gave up smoking and switched to vaping as a reduced harm alternative.
He admits that while he was a light smoker who would casually light up when in the company of friends, the obvious positive health effects coupled with the allure of vape tricks and the multitude of e-liquid flavors to choose from made transitioning to vapor products in late 2012 an easy choice for him to make.
It was natural for Magbanua to combine vaping and nature photography into his body of work, and it became apparent to him that several photographers, including select friends, had already began carving that niche out for themselves.
“My friends inspire me the most,” Magbanua said. “The support that they give me is incredible. We share the same passion for photography, and we teach each other and love each other.”
Scenic Vapers was a project that Magbanua discovered on Instagram, which he would often post to and use to explore a wealth of photographs from seasoned and amateur photographers alike, all with the swipe of a finger.
It wasn’t long before he began tagging his nature-inspired vaping photos using the Scenic Vapers hashtags that project founders Tyler Price an Ian Silver began to take notice.
Photographer: Billy Lawrence @trippinbillys
In Frame: Paige Drysdale @paige.nicolle
Location: Bell Rock Vortex, Sedona, Arizona
“I remember Tyler Price back in the day when he just started on Instagram, and had always been lurking through his Instagram,” Magbanua said. “Ian silver I don’t really know, but I like his work a lot.”
He added, “They are such humble human beings, and they are now doing good things and that makes me pretty happy.”
Magbanua says that his involvement with Scenic Vapers comes from his utmost respect and love for nature and vaping, and the excitement in knowing that he’s part of a following and a much larger movement.
“The movement and the vibe from the people,” Magbanua says is what interests him about the project. “It’s really nice seeing people explore and take pictures. I’m excited for where the group takes us in the future.”
He also believes that Scenic Vapers can be used as a vehicle for capturing the attention of smokers through photographs and exposing them to vaping as a culture and ultimately a healthier alternative to combustible tobacco.
“This is what we need to do to make the smokers stop smoking,” Magbanua said. “A healthier body is what keeps us going, and we vapers just have to talk to smokers more about vaping and make them turn away from cigarettes for good.”
To submit your photo to Scenic Vapers #CloudCheck for VAPE submission consideration, follow @VapeMagazine @ScenicVapers @Dripping_Balls and @Jedi.Visions and #VapeMagazine #CloudCheck & #ScenicVapers on Instagram.
For the VAPE pictorial column, photos must be in high resolution, but for the IG page everyone has the chance for a feature.
I hear a lot about diacetyl and other chemicals in e-cigarettes. How concerned should I be?
Hey Jerry! let me start by saying I’m not a doctor or a scientist. Here is what I do know regarding diacetyl. Even if used as an ingredient in e-liquid ( which you will be hard pressed to find these days ) But even if it was used as an ingredient in e-liquid, the levels of diacetyl would be very very low compared to that of a cigarette. Cigarettes have LOADS ( not an actual measurement ) more diacetyl in them that e-liquids have ever had.
Secondly, the cases of actual popcorn lung from actual microwave popcorn factory workers is very very low and blown completely out of proportion. Between 1992 and 2000 in one microwave popcorn factory there were 8 cases of people that reported suffering from Fixed Obstructive Lung Disease or “Popcorn Lung” these are people that are inhaling pure diacetal every day, 8 hours a day for years on end. In the end if you’re not comfortable vaping liquids with diacetyl in them, then don’t. At this point in 2016 it would honestly be difficult to find a vendor knowingly adding Diacetyl or AP to their juices anyway.
Since I started vaping bottle sizes have grown soo much and prices have gotten more reasonable. Do you think this will keep happening?
Hello Peggy! Right now the market is all over the place. I absolutely do foresee lots of liquid vendors keeping this trend going. Unfortunately due to the august 8th deadline. The only REAL option for vendors is to keep lowering their prices, as a larger bottle size would be a “new tobacco product” according to the FDA. The Market fluctuates a lot as far as “trends”. If the FDA regulations never happened. I would have predicted that with the sway back to mouth-to-lung high nicotine vaping. That maybe next year we would see a return to a lot of 30ml premium glass dripper bottles.
How did you get started in the e-liquid game?
Hey Hailey! excellent question. Getting started in the liquid business is really no different than getting started in any other business. It takes MONEY, and lots of it. In late 2012 I had already been making YouTube videos for a few years. I loved the industry and wanted to be a bigger part of it. I wanted to challenge myself and actually get inside the industry.
When Namberjuice first started back in 2012 we contracted some flavor artists and a lab, Sunk a lot of money into the project which ultimately fell through. We took a huge loss and actually didn’t turn a profit the entire first year that we existed. Determined to make this work we spent more time and money completely re-branding and re-launching the line with the help of Daniel Walsh and the amazing team at Purebacco in Michigan. Through them we were able to increase our presence online as well as at a wholesale level. When you are a business owner your work is never done. Every day we are working on ways to re-invigorate the brand through social media, ad campaigns and discount sales. It’s a lot of work, but it’s honestly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been a part of.
What is the difference in the nicotine we have been vaping and nicotine salt?
Hey John! one again, I am not a scientist or a doctor. To properly answer this question would literally require a long scientifically published paper. The short answer is not much. Nicotine is a “salt” from the tobacco plant. Some manufacturers make the claim that these more natural nicotine salts are more easily absorbed into your system, making them more effective and giving the user that nicotine “rush” that comes from cigarettes.
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