In a category characterized by constant innovation, it can be hard to keep up with the latest “next big thing.” After all, plenty of hot new products have come and gone in the years since vaping itself became “a thing.” That said, all the signs point to the most recent inventive category—nicotine salt-based vapor products—possessing staying power.
Fans of nicotine salt-based products say that they more closely replicate the experience of smoking combustible cigarettes, making them a more effective option for those who are addicted to nicotine but seeking to transition toward what they view as a less harmful product. This is partly because with traditional e-liquid, it’s difficult to vape a higher concentration of nicotine without getting too powerful of a “throat hit,” or feeling in the back of the throat. This makes it tough for former smokers to comfortably replicate the nicotine buzz they get from puffing on a conventional cigarette. Nicotine salt-based products, on the other hand, can offer a more satisfying experience.
Yet the category’s most prominent manufacturer, Juul Labs, is also arguably the most beleaguered. The company has become the target of lawsuits by anti-tobacco activists who claim it intentionally marketed its Juul device to minors. Meanwhile, youth vapers charge that the company led them unwittingly into nicotine addiction. As a result, Juul Labs is now busy backpedaling its once-aggressive marketing efforts, pledging to spend $30 million on underage tobacco use prevention.
The net effect? Products containing nicotine salts remain in high demand, even as the top-selling brand is in a vulnerable place both politically and from a marketing standpoint.
Given these twin factors, it’s not surprising that other vapor manufacturers have spotted the potential upside of getting in on the nicotine salt-based product trend by adding a Juul-like alternative to their repertoire. The nicotine salt-based vapor system Leap, which was recently unveiled by E-Alternative Solutions (EAS), is one of these.
Obliquely referring to Juul’s troubled history with youth use, Jacopo D’Alessandris, CEO and president of EAS, describes the company’s mission with Leap as creating a nicotine salt destination for adults. “As many know, in the above-ohm category of products, products containing e-liquids formulated with nicotine salts are the most satisfying technology available,” he says, noting that the company views the product as a complement to its patented, sub-ohm Cue Vapor System. “Our Cue product works very well for adults looking for a different type of satisfaction—less nicotine and more vapor production, more cloud. But for those looking for the back-of-the-throat kick that you experience with a normal cigarette, e-liquids formulated with nicotine salt are by far the best-performing technology we’ve tested.”
In marketing its vapor category products, EAS has always been careful to direct its efforts toward smokers of combustible cigarettes. It’s a strategy the company plans on continuing with Leap, says D’Alessandris, who was not ready to share specific details about his marketing plans for Leap when Tobacco Business spoke to him in September, but he did reiterate an ongoing pledge to focus on transitioning adult consumers of combustible cigarettes to vaping. “From day one we have been focused on making sure these products are marketed to an audience not only of mature people, but to mature people looking for an alternative to smoking” he notes. “Whether you are 35 or 55, if you dial our call center to buy Cue, you will be asked filtering questions to find out if you have used nicotine before, and if you answer ‘no’ to all of those, we will not send you the product. That’s how strict we are. Our feeling is that there is no need to recruit new nicotine users; plenty of nicotine users out there are desperate for an alternative.”