Friday, 13 June 2014

Cig-alikes, do they have a future?

There is a lot of different opinions about cig-alikes in the vaping community. Some say their performance is so bad that they will disappear from the market as people discover better performing devices, some use them as an "out-and-about-device" in combination with other, bigger devices or mods, while others again find them good enough and use them exclusively. When I ask experienced vapers what they recommend to smokers that wants to try vaping, the most common answer is that they wouldn't recommend a cig-alike, but rather an eGo and some kind of clearomizer. Some even get at bit angry if I mention a cig-alike. However if I ask smokers what they think would enable them to make the switch, I usually get the impression that the closer they get to a real cigarette, the better.

Personally I don't use cig-alikes. I have some high end mods and genesis atomizers that I use most of the time, and an Aspire Mini BDC (read my review here: http://goo.gl/Dia3dB) that I use when I'm out doing stuff where I need a light weight leak-proof system. I must admit it's been a while since I tried a cig-alike, but I'm so happy with the performance of the equipment I use that I think I would be very disappointed if I tried one now. But when I started out, I was also one of those people who wanted something that felt and tasted as close to a real cigarette as possible. I wanted the device to look like a cigarette, and I wanted it to taste like a cigarette, but I quickly discovered that if I wanted the taste, I had to go to bigger devices that looked nothing like a cigarette. It was almost like the less the device looked like a cigarette, the better it tasted. Today, 2 and a half year later, I only have one of my atties filled with some kind of tobacco flavour. So do I think the cig-alikes will die and disappear from the market, outperformed by 2nd generation devices and mods?

The short answer to that question is no. I started my vaping career with a cig-alike, and I do believe a lot of smokers will do the same in the future. I've written earlier about what I think makes vaping so successful, and one of the things is that it lets you keep the ritual of smoking. For some people, the look, feel and the way they use their device is a very important part of this ritual and they don't feel that it's the same if they have to push a button to fire their big-ass mod. So they continue with the cig-alikes for quite a while. Others, like myself, are happy to replace this part of the ritual, chasing after the best taste and biggest clouds of vapour. People are different. And that the main reasons I think cig-alikes will live on, and co-exist with more advanced devices.

Big tobacco seems to have a lot of faith in the cig-alikes and are investing heavily in them, and of course it is in their interest that vapers continue to use the them for as long as possible. To do this they can play on the advantages that the cig-alike has over the other devices, mainly size, price and the fact that they let their users keep a ritual that is very close to their beloved smoking ritual. However, as I indicated above, for a lot of vapers (I'd say most) the superior taste and performance of bigger devices eventually will become more important and they will move on. I'm not sure it's possible to get a cig-alike to perform nearly as well as some of the mods out there today, at least not without loosing the price advantage. However I do think there is a lot of potential for innovation in the cig-alike segment as well. And hopefully we will see a lot of exiting stuff in the years to come, if regulations don't kill the competition. Imagine a variable voltage/watt cig-alike connected to your phone with bluetooth and a fancy app monitoring health and economic benefits compared to smoking. It's definitely possible, and we're already seeing some devices that can connect to your phone.

To sum up, I think the cig-alikes are here to stay and I think they will evolve and get better, but I also think the pace of innovation in the segment depends a lot on how vaping end up being regulated. If innovation is stimulated through competition I think quite a few vapers will be happy with the cig-alikes as their main device in the future. And I think we will be both surprised and amazed by what they come up with. What do you think? Please leave a comment to let us all know.

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photo credit: lindsay-fox via photopin cc

4 comments :

  1. I think that the answer partially depends on the support new vapers have.

    We find in our shops that 90% of people who try first and second generation ecigs go for second generation. (But that still leaves 10% who prefer cigalikes.) However, tank kits and the like can be off-putting to smokers looking to switch who don't have someone to show them how to use it. And as you say, when many smokers do switch they want something as close to a regular cigarette as possible. So really smokers should be given the choice!

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  2. I was a moderate to heavy smoker for about 6 years, then the electronic cigarettes popped up. I was intrigued and excited since I wanted to quit (cold turkey was a failure). I started off with the cig-alikes like most of the older generation, because that's all there was available. It was okay, I certainly liked how it felt like an analog cigarette though.

    Fast forward a couple of years, I've gone through quite a few different brands of cig-alikes and finally settled with the Halo G6. Of course, I also own a ego-style battery, and a high end mechanical mod. Though my cig-alike does not deliver the performance, and my other two devices are more than enough; I still miss using my cig-alike. I still wish there was more focus on cig-alikes and more innovation into them.

    I continue to vape as means to stay off of traditional cigarettes, and so, I'd like my vaping experience to stay as close as to the original. I like to stay to the original reason to my change as close as possible; using devices that resemble the authentic experience. Not using big clumsy devices who bear no similarities.

    If companies can go back to their roots, improve their cig-alikes to perform like an ego-style battery, I'd be dreaming if I said RDA, then my wish has come true. I like the performance of the larger devices, but still prefer the feel of a cig-alike. If companies can produce a cig-alike that blends the best of both worlds, I think cig-alikes will regain popularity and even more new customers.

    This has always been a topic and rant on my mind because as much as I enjoy the performance of the new and larger devices, I wish companies hadn't pushed the cig-alikes aside as they have.

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