Although electronic cigarettes were invented by Chinese people, they did not occupy a large market in China. China has 350 million smokers, while the penetration rate of electronic cigarettes is only 1%. On the contrary, electronic cigarettes are growing rapidly in foreign markets and are generally regarded as revolutionary products with unlimited potential. You can easily see people using electronic cigarettes on the streets of Europe and the United States. You can see electronic cigarettes sold like chewing gum in street stores, convenience stores and other places. Why can the electronic cigarettes that’s popular in Europe and America not become the mainstream in China?
We have sorted out several reasons, hoping to solve the doubts in your mind.
Electronic cigarettes are just temporary alternatives to cigarettes
Although the popularity of electronic cigarettes is higher in European countries, in fact, electronic cigarettes are only temporary substitutes for cigarettes. For example, when there is no cigarette and no lighter, there are few people who only smoke electronic cigarettes. Many old smokers reflect that the tobacco flavor of electronic cigarettes is not as strong as that of real cigarettes, and they always feel weak, which is related to the different composition of electronic cigarette oil from that of traditional tobacco. We all know that electronic cigarette smoke is simple and contains only a few simple substances, such as nicotine, glycerin, amino acids, plant essence, and so on, so it is healthier. Traditional cigarettes are different.
Traditional cigarettes are divided into flue-cured type and mixed type.
Flue-cured tobacco originated in Britain, also known as British cigarettes. Its formula is characterized by the use of all or most of the raw materials of Flue-cured tobacco. The cut tobacco is orange yellow, and the smoke of cigarettes has a typical flue-cured tobacco flavor. The original Camel, Lucky Strike and Marlboro were flue-cured tobacco, and tobacco manufacturers spared no effort in advertising “our tobacco leaves are toasted”.
Mixed cigarettes originated in the United States, also known as American cigarettes. “Camel” is the first American mixed cigarette brand. Mixed cigarette formula is composed of flue-cured, sun-cured and air-cured tobacco leaves. Its characteristics are rich aroma, mellow taste and brown red color of cut tobacco. At the same time, the amount of tar is lower than that of Flue-cured tobacco.
The Chinese feel that the flavor of blended cigarettes is too strong to be natural as flue-cured tobacco flavor. So China started with making flue-cured cigarettes and then slowly shifted to blended cigarettes with the trend.
So traditional cigarettes not only contain nicotine, but also tar, which is actually an addiction factor, while electronic cigarettes are replaced by a variety of fruit flavors. Therefore, too little tar odor may also be an important factor in the low conversion rate of electronic cigarettes to older smokers.
Traditional tobacco blends different tobacco leaves or different grades of the same tobacco leaves in a certain proportion to form raw materials with certain taste or sensory characteristics. It’s hard to find the proportion that everyone likes. This process is the process of making recipes, which usually lasts about two years. Therefore, it is understandable that the electronic cigarettes which have just started to rise are not accepted by the old smokers.
Doubts about the safety of electronic cigarettes
The mechanical safety and component safety of electronic cigarettes have been proved. The FDA of the United States will allow electronic cigarettes to be put on the market only after testing their electronic cigarette products. And 80% of the world’s e-cigarette manufacturing comes from China, 90% of which are processed and manufactured in Shenzhen. Only so far in China, such confirmatory information is rare, more or less questionable. The safety of device, smoke oil, battery, inhalation and exhaust gases are not regulated by relevant standards. At the same time, there are no corresponding regulatory measures to protect the problems. Therefore, smokers are afraid to try e-cigarettes easily because of safety, health and later security considerations.
Lack of regulation in electronic cigarette market
So far, the state has no clear legislative management of the electronic cigarette industry, the market has no regulation, and there is no inspection by relevant departments. Consumers worry too much, so even if all kinds of advertisements go crazy, it won’t help. Today’s consumers only believe in policy, not advertising. Although the compulsory national standards for electronic cigarettes have entered the approval stage, people are still in a wait-and-see state before the policy is formally promulgated. Nobody dares to be the first person to try.
E-cigarette propaganda is not enough
In the past few years, when electronic cigarettes had just risen in China, there were hardly any advertisements. They were all for mutual benefit, and they only communicated within the VAPOR circle. Outsiders would only know about electronic cigarettes if they came into contact with the circle or knew the circle. Especially in recent years, the media has always burst out the news that some players have caused the blast of electronic cigarettes because of wrong operation, which has increased people’s fear of electronic cigarettes, and they dare not touch electronic cigarettes.
The price of electronic cigarettes is on the high side
For smokers who smoke a pack of cigarettes every three days, the monthly cost is about 100 yuan, while the price of electronic cigarettes varies from 100 yuan to 500 yuan. Adding smoke oil may not be particularly suitable for some smokers. If it’s a user who plays with heavy smoke and consumes atomizer cores, it’s going to cost more. For ordinary workers with low incomes, hundreds of monthly expenses can be a little unacceptable.
E-cigarettes are not conducive to social interaction
The biggest consumption of tobacco and alcohol in China is not for self-use, but belongs to social products. Gifts and cigarettes are often given away not because individuals want to smoke, but as a social medium, the most choice is smoking. Not only that, cigarettes also have the function of sharing, and electronic cigarettes in this respect is slightly worse, even if there are brands that make pod electronic cigarettes easy to carry and share, but the price is much more expensive than cigarettes, which is also a factor that electronic cigarettes have not been popularized.
Tobacco taxation that cannot be cut off
Chinese tobacco enterprises determine whether their performance is good or not by the amount of taxes they pay to the state each year, and the tax revenue of tobacco has always been the top one in China’s overall tax revenue. The emergence of electronic cigarettes, which are similar to cigarettes, is bound to have an impact on traditional tobacco. A newly emerging new thing and an old thing that has prevailed in China for hundreds of years are certainly incomparable. Moreover, there is such a huge market that its manufacturers and operators will do their utmost to maintain its market share. And electronic cigarettes in this situation of extremely unequal status and resources will certainly be extremely difficult to surge.
Lack of education in China’s electronic cigarette market
Chinese people’s understanding of e-cigarettes is still in the stage of quitting smoking products, and because of the “smoke-like” influence, the public’s impression of e-cigarettes is not good. In addition, this year’s 315 evening party for electronic cigarettes reported that the public worried about the difference between electronic cigarettes and traditional tobacco, but also do not understand the working principle of electronic cigarettes and its substantive use. Therefore, the education of China’s e-cigarette market has always been the direction of major e-cigarette brands.
Nowadays, Chinese e-cigarette brands are doing their best to open up the Chinese market while educating the Chinese people about e-cigarettes. For example, many e-cigarette brands have built their own communities to popularize e-cigarette knowledge to its users, convey brand ideas and enhance customer stickiness; some e-cigarette brands implement a lifetime free device change system, that is, no matter what problems you buy, the brand will unconditionally exchange for the latest style of devices for you. Some e-cigarette brands, users can buy new pods at a discount price when they have used them up; some e-cigarette brands use the popular block chain model to attract users to dig and retain customers; and some companies often organize off-line salon activities. Face-to-face communication with users, understand customer needs, and achieve continuous product update iteration to meet the needs of more users.
IQOS’s successful way of getting customers
Looking at the world, there are also some methods worth learning from the IQOS which is popular in the world. Firstly, IQOS price compares with that of traditional cigarettes in the Japanese domestic market. It also provides Regular, Balanced Regular, Menthol and Mint cigarettes sticks. Secondly, it makes full use of Marlboro’s unparalleled consumption base and brand influence all over the world. Even a new cigarette completely different from traditional cigarettes, it still uses the brand name “Marlboro” and saves the steps of brand marketing. Thirdly, in addition to PMI’s existing sales channels, it also uses grass-roots marketing platform and e-commerce platform. Most importantly, they created the splendid IQOS flagship store, IQOS Embassies, offline.
Since 2014, PMI has opened 10 flagship stores in Japan and Italy and 2 in Russia. Consumers can enjoy HeatSticks in the store, and they can also consult IQOS in detail and enjoy high-quality after-sales service. In Europe, for example, new customers enjoy free experience services. As long as you have never used IQOS, you can experience two weeks of IQOS cigarette sets worth 99 euros (about 776 yuan) for free, and you can also get two packs of free cigarette sticks. And in the process of customer experience, there will be experience tutors throughout the service, at any time for customers to answer questions and solve doubts. However, each time the cost of getting customers is around 260 euros (about RMB 2038), which shows that PMI has paid a high cost for IQOS.
From the perspective of historical evolution, it is inevitable that new things will always be excluded from the old ones. It is inevitable that old things will always be replaced by new ones. Maybe some people don’t like electronic cigarettes just because they happen to dislike the flavor they smoked at first time.
Smoking is never what we need. Maybe what you need to overcome is not cigarette addiction, but your own mind’s addiction. To be healthy, you have to give up smoking completely. Besides, you can’t replace your health with anything else. Similarly, you can’t rely on any substitute to give up cigarettes. Correct treatment of smoking addiction and electronic cigarettes may be the necessary way to make the right choice.