Could TV advertising restrictions help grow the electronic cigarette industry?
It is only recently that electronic cigarette companies, and indeed their tobacco cigarette counterparts, have ventured into the TV advertising market to push their electronic cigarette products. Industry growth to date has been achieved through minimal mass-market advertising and there is a growing opinion that this, perhaps rather bizarrely, is good for the industry going forward. We hear rumours on a regular basis that the larger tobacco cigarette companies are circling their electronic cigarette counterparts with a number of mergers and acquisitions in the offing. There are also strong suggestions that millions of pounds have been put aside to fund mass marketing campaigns with a number of television adverts planned in the near future. So, news that senators in the US are now looking to block television adverts promoting electronic cigarettes may well scupper these plans. Or will they? [caption id="attachment_321" align="alignnone" width="300"] Advert for blu E-cigs in the US starring Hollywood actor Stephen Dorff.[/caption] Could less advertising actually be positive for the industry? In order to see the potential shape of the electronic cigarette market, assuming advertising restrictions were not in place, we only need to look at the early days of tobacco cigarettes. The evidence is before us today in the shape of enormous tobacco companies who monopolised the industry and used their significant financial power to ensure that their products were very much in the public eye. Whether or not these attempts to restrict television advertising in the US are successful they open an interesting debate on the future shape and direction of the electronic cigarette market. If the industry develops as a level playing field, or as level as you could hope, with restrictions on mass-market advertising then this should in theory help the smaller to medium-size companies. The reality is that every market needs fresh blood, needs competition and challenges and reducing the ability to flex your financial muscle will ultimately lead to a more level playing field. Word-of-mouth When you bear in mind the limited television advertising we have seen to date from the electronic cigarette industry it further highlights the power of "word-of-mouth". The simple fact is that the vast majority of electronic cigarette smokers today have perhaps benefitted from chitchat and talk across social media channels and recommendations from friends and family. In many ways this has allowed the industry to grow naturally without any undue bias towards one company or a specific group of companies. It will prove more and more difficult to maintain this balance going forward although restrictions in television advertising is unlikely to do any real harm to the industry. In many ways it is the need to educate the wider public about the pros and cons of electronic cigarettes, smash any untrue myths and also release details from the array of ongoing medical trials which will assist the industry going forward. There are still concerns and questions to be answered and many of these will be addressed in the short to medium term. Conclusion It may seem bizarre to suggest that restricted television advertising could actually play into the hands of the electronic cigarette industry as a whole. However, if this mass-market and expensive advertising channel was available to all parties it could create an undue bias and restrict competition and newcomers to the industry. So far word-of-mouth has been the major selling angle for the electronic cigarette industry and we can see today how powerful this has been when you bear in mind the tens of millions of electronic cigarette users around the world. Article brought to you by OK E-cigarettes: