In less than 20 years, the vaping industry was born and became one of the fastest growing businesses in the world. With a global value of more than $7 billion in 2016, the vaping industry is predicted to rapidly increase to more than $47 billion by the year 2025, according to Grand View Research.
As more people gravitate toward these electronic devices, there has been a noticeable shift in people’s preferences for open system devices over closed system ones— some of the earliest vapes were designed as closed systems, meaning they were single-use disposable products rather than refillable devices with individual replaceable parts.
But when exactly did vapes first enter the market and what can we expect from the industry in the future?
The Beginnings of the Vaping Industry
Though the idea of an electronic cigarette can be traced back to the early 20th century, the first product to be produced and sold as an e-cig was created in 2004 by a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik. An avid smoker himself, Lik wanted to create a new type of nicotine product that didn’t contain so many of the additives found in traditional cigarettes. Apparently, the idea for his vape came to him after he had a dream in which he found himself in an ocean of vapor. This dream sparked his idea of creating a device with vapor, not smoke.
The First Models
The very first vapes or e-cigs were designed as closed systems—small, cigarette-shaped devices that were easily disposable, though some models could also be recharged and thus reused. These items quickly become popular because they simulated a similar feeling to smoking a cigarette but without the lingering smell of smoke. Plus, the idea that these devices could be used indoors without the same negative effects as cigarettes was appealing.
The Evolution of Vapes
As vapes grew in popularity, so did the creators’ ideas for how to improve and alter these devices. Open systems were developed, which allowed vapers to customize their devices with larger tanks, stronger batteries and different coils. These later models moved away from the traditional cigarette-shaped design and became more creative (and also larger to accommodate a better battery). Refillable tanks also grew in popularity because they gave vapers the opportunity to test out different e-liquids and even mix their own flavors. As these new developments came about, higher quality vapes hit the market.
The Current State of Vaping
In 2018, Statista reported that the U.S. vaping industry was valued at more than $3 billion dollars. With many adults turning to e-cigs and vapes as an alternative smoking method, this number is only expected to rise. The past is usually the best indicator of the future, so, with this anticipated growth, the industry is also expected to make new advancements in how the products work, the ability to customize vapes and the overall appearance.
Different parts of vape mods have become the norm over the years, with clearomizer tanks dominating the market. These types of tanks are—you guessed it—clear, which allows users to check e-liquid levels and refill as needed. Organic cotton coils have also become a popular feature. The coil is the part of the device that heats up the liquid, turning it to vapor. With the organic cotton coils, impurities that sometimes existed in non-organic cotton coils are not present.
Common Problems the Industry Faces
Unfortunately, the biggest problem that the vaping industry faces today is the number of underage users. Though the products are specifically designed for adults, some teens are attracted to these e-cigs because the smell is undetectable, and they can easily be used indoors as the vapor disappears within seconds.
Vaping companies both big and small are making an effort to lower the number of minors that have access to these products by making it more difficult to purchase vaping products without strictly verifying age. As the government imposes more regulations on the vaping industry, these companies face greater challenges in how they can market products in order to expose fewer minors to these advertisements.
While the vaping industry has grown exponentially over the last couple of decades, there are certain restrictions placed on how these companies can advertise, much like alcohol and cigarette companies. Though digital advertising is one of the most popular and effective marketing strategies, the vape industry is prohibited from certain types of digital advertisements, including paid or sponsored search engine ads.
The intention behind these regulations is good because they can expose fewer minors to nicotine products, but they can also put a strain on new companies trying to grow their brand. Using influencer marketing and social media posts (but not paid-for advertisements) is one way to promote the industry without breaking any guidelines. For vape companies, however, this means they need to be extremely careful to monitor their follower demographics.
The Future of the Vaping Industry
With predictions of the vape industry growing to nearly $50 billion worldwide in the next six years, it’s difficult to imagine a future without these electronic devices. How will the industry grapple with this exponential growth? Many predict companies will need to work in tandem with government regulations to ensure that the products are being safely used by adults.
As more vapers gravitate toward the customizable vape mod devices, improvements will continue to be made on various parts. Stronger batteries are predicted to hit the market, as well as new e-liquid flavors for more variation. Most vape juices are created from a combination of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Depending on the level of each ingredient, vapers will notice a stronger, harsher hit or a smoother, mellower hit. To accommodate different preferences, the industry will likely introduce e-liquids for specific types of vaping experiences.
The vaping industry hit the market quick and grew fast. With a growing number of vapers, it’s likely that the industry is here to stay and will continue to make better quality, more desirable products. Customization is a major factor in vape popularity, so it’s safe to assume that, over time, these devices will only provide vapers with more options for how to personalize their vaping experience.