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How to Remain Competitive in the Vape Space

Vaporizer and oil brands must cater to these consumer demands to expand their presence in this lucrative, but crowded, sector.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As cannabis legalization has spread and consumer demographics have expanded, vaping has emerged as the second most preferred format (flower is number one) for legal cannabis consumption in the U.S.

Currently boasting a 20.6 percent market share, the vape category is expected to reach $5 billion in 2021 sales across U.S. medical and adult-use markets, according to reports from Seattle-based analytics firm Headset.

Consumers turn to vapes for many reasons, including convenience, cleanliness, and discretion. All-in-one, rechargeable, and disposable vapes provide the ultimate ease of use for inhalable cannabis, with no need for additional heating sources or handling sticky product. Their small size and lack of odor also make them easy to conceal in a pocket or purse.

But we have come to expect these attributes from a vape device, so they are not the competitive factors that operators can rely on to grow their brand. Instead, vaporizer and oil brands must cater to consumer demands for performance and quality to expand their presence in this lucrative but crowded sector.

Related: How To Achieve a Safer Vape Experience

Simple, reliable performance

While it can be tempting to add fancy technology to vape hardware for technology’s sake, consumers prefer simplicity of use and reliable performance. Vape technology needs to benefit the consumer, not hinder the use of their device. The best vape devices deliver consistent, reliable dosing with each inhale, a smooth draw, and long battery life.

Breath-activated vapes are the most straightforward design, eliminating the need for buttons and apps while delivering total user-friendliness. Each inhalation should offer good volume and draw; only sub-par vapes will require multiple puffs to collect a full dose. Battery life needs to be sufficient for consumers to take the device on the go without worrying about recharging or running out.

Early cannabis vape pens utilized e-cigarette tech in their design, sometimes causing performance issues with oil viscosity. E-cigarette oil is runny and thin, while cannabis oil is thick, sticky, and more prone to drying out. Devices and cartridges not designed specifically for cannabis oil run the risk of leaking and clogging. Clogs can cause improper wicking, resulting in dry hits that contain less vapor and flavor than intended.


Efficacy and safety matter

Delivering vapor that doesn’t taste burnt is another critical component to vape consumer satisfaction. Consumers want to taste the terpenes and other flavors in their oil. That requires heating elements designed to heat cannabis oil to vaporization without burning it. At Jupiter Research, our CCELL technology uses a 360-degree heating coil embedded in ceramic that provides uniform heating free from burning, providing continuous oil flow and saturation.

A Scientific Reports study further highlighted the necessity of having cannabis-specific vape tech that found heavy metals can leach from the heating coils in e-cigarettes. The detected metals included aluminum, copper, iron, and lead. The takeaway: only use materials that have been previously tested and are known to comply with strict health and safety standards.

Consumer safety should always be the highest priority. Vape technology should adhere to the highest industry standards. Jupiter Research’s devices are produced in GMP- and cGMP-compliant factories with ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485: 2016 certifications. This dedication to compliance and production quality ensures that all products are consistently manufactured with efficiency and quality control at the forefront. 


Inefficient technology is costly

With so many brands to choose from, a consumer who experiences a performance issue or quality concern with one brand will purchase their next vape pen from a different brand. On top of losing customers, allowing a device with quality issues to hit store shelves can result in costly recalls, reputational damage, and other unexpected financial impacts as well.

Recall costs can be extensive when shipping, destroying, or repackaging the items, production delays, and the difficult-to-quantify impact on consumer perception. After Ontario-based Aphria Inc. announced their Jan. 2020 voluntary recall on leaking vape pens, the company’s stock declined 1.3%. The vape sector provides a significant opportunity for brand growth, but investors quickly lose confidence when products fail to perform.

This was part of the motivation behind Jupiter Research offering an “under-1 percent leak rate” guarantee on our devices; vape brands need the assurance that hardware suppliers take the brand’s reputation as seriously as their own. The short-term costs of cheap technology are not worth the potential long-term hits to a brand’s reputation – or market cap.


Why you should invest in brand

The value of a brand’s oil depends on the hardware it uses. They ultimately cost themselves when brands choose to save money on low-cost vape hardware and cartridges instead of investing in quality devices. Cheap heating elements can ruin high-quality oil through overheating, and the overall vaping experience is diminished through a poor draw, clogging, or limited battery life.

The reality is that it’s the brand that takes the blame any time a device fails to work properly, negatively impacting revenues and reputation. While quality vape technology can have a higher upfront investment, the longer-term disadvantages of inferior product performance will have a much more costly impact.