Millennials didn’t invent vaping. Vaping culture has been around unbelievably long, dating supposedly back all the way to ancient Egypt. Back then hot stones were used to vape herbs; Indian shisha is also considered a forerunner in a way.
But actual e-cigarettes weren’t a very large success when they originally appeared on the market. Back in 1930 Joseph Robinson’s “Electronic Vaporizer” got issued but never made the mass market. This recurred in the ‘80s when R.J. Reynolds issued Premier, a brand of smokeless cigarettes. They were reintroduced in the ‘90s as Eclipse brand, but none of it seemed to hit the market quite right.
So why now? What could be the reason behind the success of e-cigarettes with this generation?
Keen on Electronics
This may seem a bit blunt, but millennials are far more accustomed to electronic devices than former generations, and this certainly played its role in popularizing e-cigarettes. Now, there is less stigma around electrical devices.
And it is evidently better to have one refillable device that you can recharge almost anywhere than to buy a new pack of cigarettes every day. But is it the mere practicality of the product that sells?
Gen Y doesn’t just want the commodity of buying a product. You have to place value into the product that goes beyond its narrow benefits. The product is brought to a personal level which makes the consumer relate and feel good about purchasing it.
So big companies are going out of their way to become more local, original, to look trustworthy, more friendly, and seemingly opposed to globalization (going eco or donating to the sick and poor).
But millennials are increasingly skeptical of governments and big corporations, which makes alternative and niche market more popular, and many smaller brands are rising in power.
Personalization and Identity
Of course, branding is not something new in marketing. People identified with their brands before as they do now. Cigarette companies market their products to appeal to specific groups of people. And smokers of certain brands develop an identity inseparable from their favorite brand by deriving a sense of belonging.
With the former notion in mind, it is easy to understand that people want to connect with their products more deeply, and since vapes are not disposable products, they are made for longer use. This makes them customizable. It is more of a modern pipe than a cigarette, and people seem to be reintroducing older concepts such as this because of the nostalgia for values. The consumer needs are conflating with value systems.
This is a demographic preoccupied with health and wellness, which is understandable since millennials feel they need to invest in something more valuable and viable than mere products.
Being the generation that earns less than any former generation and struggles with making any type of investment, millennials had to place value in something else and redefine wealth as such, making wellness the ultimate status of wealth. And with this wealth, they regain the sense of power and control over their life, now represented in health.
E-cigs are widely considered a more healthy solution, firstly because they don’t require nicotine, and secondly, because of the way they are consumed. Millions of people embraced this trend as a successful quitting aid. And not to mention, millennials are even trying to vape vitamins, which only shows the overall concern with health and the endeavor to try and associate vaping with health.
These are being sold as both an environmental and health solution, making them popular among millennials, who, according to surveys, seem to care more about being socially aware than did baby boomers.
Apart from being of personal benefit, it can also be eco-friendly and shows social awareness, which younger generations pride themselves with. Lastly, due to this, vapes are more socially acceptable and can be brought along to cafes and even colleges and airports.
Millennials are struggling financially, which makes e-cigarettes more available as vaping can save you up to 92% if you’re someone who smokes a pack per day.
Since e-liquid costs around $15 to $18 per 30ml bottle, it is way more affordable to buy 2.5 bottles per month than buy a pack of cigarettes on a daily bases. However, with many different flavors at your disposal, you may be tempted to overextend your budget. Still, you can always find cheap vape juice to experiment with.
There are even DIY options many are turning to with an increase in tutorial videos all over the internet. Making one’s own e-juice is even more economical and quite popular since the younger generations are ever more skeptical of brands.
It’s hard to make something popular without it being seen as desirable. And what better way to make something desirable than to put it on someone everybody wants to be? A star.
Not saying this happens intentionally, some of these stars are just picking up on what they see as modern cultural or maybe ethical trends. But it is evident that more and more celebrities are seen vaping on sets and red carpets. From Johnny Depp, the favorite pirate of our time, to Sophie Turner, the beloved Queen in the North.
All this being said, what do you think? Is this just another marketing trick or is there truly something to this trend that makes it worth considering? I hope you found both the pros and cons in this article and decided for yourself.