Behind the meteoric rise of the world's biggest vaping brand JUUL

by The One Centre

31

August, 2018

31st August 2018

JUUL is on a mission to improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by positioning ‘vaping’ as a better alternative to smoking cigarettes. Since launching in 2015, the brand has enjoyed explosive growth, fuelled by its sleek design and tech innovations.

It’s been three years since JUUL first launched, yet the brand already claims 72% of the market for e-cigarettes in the United States thanks to its distinct positioning as a product that’s ‘For Smokers. By Design.’

“It’s an uncanny simulacrum of smoking.”

The strength of JUUL’s mission has also played a key role in its success to-date. JUUL strives to improve the lives of one billion adult smokers by giving them a tool to quit smoking, or reduce their consumption of cigarettes. “We envision a world where fewer people use cigarettes, and where people who smoke cigarettes have the tools to reduce or eliminate their consumption entirely, should they so desire,” it says.

Today, JUUL is so popular it has entered the lexicon as a verb. To ‘Juul’, according to New Yorker, is to “inhale nicotine free from the seductively disgusting accoutrements of a cigarette: the tar, the carbon monoxide, the garbage mouth, the smell. It’s an uncanny simulacrum of smoking.”

This high-growth company is valued at around $15 billion, employs 400 people in North America and is expanding globally after opening its first London office in July.

There are countless e-cigarette brands vying for a slice of this fast-growing market, so what’s the secret driving JUUL’s success?

Founded by former smokers James Monsees and Adam Bowen, the story of JUUL’s rampant sales growth begins with the quality of its design, the company’s commitment to R&D, and its desire to modernise the experience of smoking by integrating design and technology.

The company employs a team of engineers, scientists, designers, product managers, supply chain experts, customer service and business professionals, who are now shaping the future of the world’s dominant vaping brand.

Bowen and Monsees met in 2003 while studying product design at Stanford. They launched several predecessors to JUUL prior to 2015, and instead of mimicking traditional cigarettes, the goal was always to reimagine the experience of smoking by creating a designer product with its own look and feel. “It’s undeniably cooler than that insipid mess of tubes and glowsticks” that other e-cigarette companies manufacture, writes Wired.

JUUL looks like a flash drive and uses a coil to heat nicotine pods, which create satisfying plumes of vapour. The mechanism is temperature controlled, so it doesn’t produce dangerous chemicals but delivers a swift hit of nicotine with each puff.

Juul’s team of product engineers and designers understand that smoking is a ritual. To make ‘juuling’ a ritual of its own, they have incorporated their own habitual features into the design. Tap twice, and the LED light blinks. Wave the JUUL around, and it lights up like a rainbow.

Now that JUUL has taken on big tobacco companies, it could actually disrupt the entire medical industry. As Monsees told Wired, “The underlying technology, the vaporization technology, is so valuable and can be really disruptive in a lot of different markets.”

“The more appealing the product is for smokers, the more appealing it’s likely to be for everyone else”

There is a downside to JUUL’s carefully thought-out design and user experience. The brand immediately caught the eye of teenagers and university students, who began posting images of themselves on Instagram using hashtags like #juuling.

JUUL has also infiltrated meme culture, and its prevalence on social media soon caught the eye of the US Food and Drug Administration, which has just launched an investigation into JUUL’s marketing tactics.

As the New Yorker observed: “JUUL is caught in a very particular dilemma: the more appealing the product is for smokers, the more appealing it’s likely to be for everyone else, including teenagers.”

Originally, JUUL did use playful marketing tactics like pop-up JUUL bars and colourful ads featuring bubbly, beautiful models. It also utilised social media cleverly by encouraging guests at events to share photos using hashtags like #LightsCameraVapor.

Since then, JUUL’s marketing has become far more earnest. In 2017, to highlight its mission of being a brand that helps adult smokers, it vowed to only feature models aged 35 or over. This year, it changed its policy again to profile real people who have successfully used JUUL to cut back on cigarettes, creating a virtual community of JUUL users.

The company is spending less on advertising and more on lobbying, committing $30 million to combat underage vaping. The company’s marketing and social media code is also explained on its website, where JUUL openly acknowledges the pros and cons of vaping.

“We’re actively trying to understand it so that we can combat it.”

JUUL admits it was caught off guard by its popularity among teens, and told the The New York Times: “We’re actively trying to understand it so that we can combat it.”

The brand’s success is also its biggest problem. JUUL is staying true to its mission: it has already converted one million adult smokers to e-cigarettes, but in the process, it’s now being accused of creating nicotine addiction among teens.

As for what’s next, JUUL is currently working on a Bluetooth-enabled device that will help adults track their consumption of nicotine while discouraging teen use by disabling the device if users can’t prove their age.

As the controversy surrounding vaping heats up, it’s clear the vaping market holds huge potential for global growth. There are around 2.5 million Australians who smoke daily, and 7.4 million smokers in Britain. In 2018, the American vaporizer ­­­market alone will grow to $5.5 billion dollars, up 25% from 2017, according to Wells Fargo.

JUUL’s lobbying and marketing initiatives are under scrutiny, but the strength of its mission and the popularity of its design are unlikely to curb the brand’s expansion globally.

 

Why It Matters

– In the absence of regulation, anyone and everyone could enter the e-cigarette market. But by investing in design to reimagine the experience of smoking, JUUL quickly emerged as the dominant player, utilising technology to design a cleaner, safer product with the tagline, ‘For Smokers. By Design’.

– After disrupting the big tobacco industry, JUUL is likely to disrupt the medical and pharmaceutical industries by adapting its vaping products to deliver everything from vitamins to medicines.

– The vaping market still pales in comparison to the size of the US cigarette market, worth $120 billion. But it’s growing – fast – and JUUL is helping to fuel its growth despite spending considerably less on advertising than other leading e-cigarette brands, according to Kantar.

– The vaping industry is at a crossroads. When e-cigarettes first began to be marketed from 2003 onwards, there was very little regulation. Today, regulators are moving fast to introduce laws and restrictions. In the United States, companies must complete a complicated review process with the FDA by 2022. In Australia, it is still illegal to buy liquid nicotine to use in e-cigarettes.

 

Credits

Article By: The One Centre
Ideas and innovation company
Twitter @onecentregroup

Categories

Share

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share via Email

Related Stories

Technology

Why millennials love paying for Lemonade insurance

Lifestyle

How Everlane’s radically transparent ethos is upending fashion

Health & Fitness

Recyclable glasses made simple from Dresden

Food & Beverage

Eat an Impossible Burger, save the world

News

Brands Disrupting the World: book now for our next ONEtalks

Health & Fitness

Sex education you can trust: how Clue is tackling taboos

Food & Beverage

Drinking Oatly is more than a trend. It’s a "paradigm shift"

Lifestyle

Mobile is at the heart of Nike’s House of Innovation stores

Centre News

The psychology of selling to the world’s ultra-rich

Fashion

The Phluid Project: Shaking up the gendered world of fashion

News

The One Centre acquires digital media agency Effilab Australia

Finance

Koho is taking back your dreams from the banks that stole them

Transport

Forget buying a Mercedes-Benz. Why not subscribe?

Technology

Behind the meteoric rise of the world's biggest vaping brand JUUL

Retail

Cult Korean eyewear label Gentle Monster takes on London

News

The One Centre presents the brands disrupting the world at ONEtalks

Transport

Uber has a better way to map data – and anyone can use it

Health & Fitness

Forget ‘stoner’ – MedMen is taking marijuana mainstream

Centre News

Four pillars of brand success – John Ford writes for Startup Daily

Fashion

Virtual celebrity Lil Miquela partners with Japanese label Ambush

Fashion

Oakley’s ode to obsession

Fashion

"Will finds a way" with Under Armour

Technology

Kengo Kuma is purifying the air at Milan Design Week

Technology

Facebook is building Willow Village. Would you live there?

Technology

Apple recruits Spike Jonze to welcome you home

Technology

Dot Watch is disrupting the Braille market

Transport

Is Hyundai Pavilion the darkest building on earth?

News

The One Centre presents ‘Disruption Needs Construction’ at Sydney Design Festival 2018

Transport

Nissan brings its tech to life with self-driving slippers

Fashion

Outdoor apparel brand Patagonia to sue the Trump administration

News

The One Centre is hiring creative directors. Here’s our manifesto.

Fashion

Tiffany & Co brings Breakfast at Tiffany’s to life with luxury collection

Products

Behind the scenes of OK Go’s ‘Obsession’

Fashion

The North Face combines daydreams and free skiing stunts in a mesmerising film

Fashion

Nike is fighting bots with augmented reality

Centre News

"The only way is up" - John Ford writes for Mumbrella

Fashion

Fashion house Yves Saint Laurent opens a museum in Marrakech

Transport

Volkswagen explores the father/son relationship in an emotional film

Technology

Meet Norman, a WebVR tool for doodling in space

Centre News

“Give Dove a break” - John Ford speaks to CMO magazine

Food & Beverage

Guinness saddles up Compton Cowboys for latest Made of More film

Products

Minimalist Japanese brand Muji expands empire with fresh food market

Technology

Teenage Engineering

Technology

A forest where gods live

Fashion

Louis Vuitton teams with Supreme for ultimate brand collaboration

Technology

Technological Nature

Technology

Playful Palette

Fashion

Nike creates graphic feast for Air Max

Transport

Volvo returns to safety positioning in masterpiece film for the new XC6O

Products

Ikea to employ Syrian refugees in social sustainability project

Technology

Screens of the future

Technology

Apple’s extravagant new campus brings brand values to life

Products

Transformative Appetite

Products

Dove launches Real Beauty Productions to tell stories of real women

Technology

Rapid Liquid Printing

Lifestyle

The brands coming out to support the LGBT community

Media & Entertainment

Abstract. The Art of Design

Retail

Target creates mini-musical spectacular for Christmas

Transport

Nissan creates mobile workspace

Lifestyle

Lincoln Motor Company taps Annie Leibovitz for campaign

Products

Braun creates hypnotic installation for London Design Week

Transport

BMW Films returns with an explosive short film

Fashion

Adidas Republic of Sports launches in China

Technology

Convert the world around you to Pantone with the new Pantone App

Experiences

Moleskine opens a cafe for creatives

Media & Entertainment

We're the Superhumans: Channel 4 returns with film series

Fashion

Activewear brand Lululemon expands into beer

Food & Beverage

Tiger Beer launches NYC pop-up store to showcase best of Asia

Products

P&G rolls out strong film in ongoing Thank You, Mom campaign

Products

Ikea launches brand collaborations

Fashion

Adidas creates sustainable shoes made from ocean plastics

Lifestyle

Google launches 360-degree interactive animated short film

Food & Beverage

Coca-Cola makes music with W Hotels

Finance

Save The Children returns with harrowing refugee film

Fashion

COS creates "show-stopping" installation

Fashion

Uniqlo aims for Utopia with flagship store relaunch

Food & Beverage

McDonald's transforms Happy Meal toy into VR experience

Technology

Samsung launches immersive brand experience store

Media & Entertainment

Lo and Behold: Netscout launches branded film at Sundance Film Festival

Fashion

Burberry teams with Apple to launch dedicated Music channel

Technology

Apple Watch creates blooming installation at Selfridges

Fashion

Nike targets women with luxury workout experience

Art & Design

HSBC soars in stunning elevator film

Hospitality

The Four Seasons Jet is the ultimate brand experience

Fashion

Savage Beauty: Iconic Alexander McQueen honoured in exhibition

Technology

Samsung film is a beautiful tribute to the power of technology

Fashion

Converse creates global exhibition to celebrate iconic shoe

Fashion

Leica and Moncler create Monumental exhibition

Technology

Wind Mobile celebrates human connections

Products

Lego targets architects with new product range

Products

GE revives iconic Moon Boot to celebrate role

Fashion

Nike's ‘Phenomenal’ World Cup experience

Fashion

Louis Vuitton Museum: a new level of branded art

Media & Entertainment

GQ to groom men with branded barbershop

Transport

BMW's iconic Art Cars Project launches global tour

Food & Beverage

Chipotle turns to literature in new project

Food & Beverage

Cornetto spreads the love with film series

Food & Beverage

Stella hits high note with Chalice Symphony

Finance

NRMA opens Crashed Car Showroom

Technology

Intel urges audiences to 'look inside' in film series

Fashion

Net-A-Porter launches glossy print magazine

Products

The Lego Movie hits cinemas worldwide

Food & Beverage

Guinness creates short film 'The Sapeurs'

Products

Dom Perignon and Jeff Koons create art

Fashion

Patagonia film celebrates the stories we wear

Fashion

Louis Vuitton's controversial exhibition

Food & Beverage

Chipotle wages war on Big Food

Technology

AT&T's brutal new film to stop texting and driving

Transport

BA tugs the heartstrings with Visit Mum film

Transport

Leave the world behind with Volvo

Technology

IBM & The World's Smallest Film

Fashion

Burberry merges digital and physical worlds

Lifestyle

Iconic landmark is on song with The Ship Song

Media & Entertainment

Bond's Skyfall is ultimate branded entertainment

Lifestyle

Red Bull goes Stratospheric

Transport

Audi showcases the future in Spheres

Technology

AT&T unveils transmedia experience Daybreak

Products

Google experiments with art and science

Technology

GE asks Australians for Two Words

Food & Beverage

Coca-Cola Moves to the Beat of London

theONEcentre

Strategy + Artistry

Ground Floor,
71 York St
Sydney NSW 2000
T +61 2 8096 9700
hello@theonecentre.com

for updates on The One Centre Group and our publications.

Back to top

theONEcentre

Strategy + Artistry