Strategic business plans and marketing strategies are common topics and focusing on an e-cigarette company like V2 makes such an analysis even more relevant considering their popularity. This sample business anlysis was conducted by one of the world-class writers from Ultius.
Marketing Analysis: V2 E-Cigarette Company
The e-cigarette is becoming an increasingly widespread technology in these times. This is an electronic device that vaporizes a nicotine solution in order to deliver nicotine to the lungs; and as such, there is no tobacco or smoke involved. This sample essay will consist of a marketing analysis of the e-cigarette company V2. The essay will have three main parts:
- A general introduction to e-cigarettes.
- A consideration of the branding strategy of the company V2, with a special emphasis on the psychological implications.
- A SWOT analysis for V2.
Introduction to e-cigarettes
The group Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights has provided the following objective description of the e-cigarette, or e-cig:
“e-cigarettes are devices designed to mimic cigarettes. The metal tubes are designed to look like real cigarettes and contain a cartridge filled with a nicotine-laced liquid that is vaporized by a battery-powered heating element” (paragraph 1).
Unlike normal cigarettes, though, use of the e-cigarette does not involve the inhalation of smoke. The e-cigarette typically consists of a battery that can be recharged and a cartridge that can is either disposable or can be refilled with liquid. The cartridge contains a nicotine solution, and when one draws on the e-cigarette, that solution is vaporized, and the user inhales the vapor. (This is why the e-cigarette is also commonly called a vaporizer.) The vapor then exhaled by the vapor has no smell, and it simply dissipates quickly into the air.
Health impact of e-cigs
The e-cigarette has caused considerable controversy thus far regarding potential health effects, and especially the effects of using e-cigarettes versus the effects of normal smoking. Many stakeholders would seem to dislike the e-cigarette almost by instinct, simply due to its aesthetic resemblance to a normal cigarette. However, the relevant research evidence thus far would seem to indicate that the health effects of the e-cigarette are far less bad than the health effects of the normal cigarette. Sullum, for example, has quoted the following from the conclusion of one high-profile research study:
“Analysis of the smoke from conventional cigarettes showed that the mainstream cigarette smoke delivered approximately 1500 times more harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) tested when compared to e-cigarette aerosol or to puffing room air” (paragraph 4).
There is also the question of the effects of smoking upon fetal development, with e-cigs being an improvement, but not a solution to the issue. This is also congruent with common sense, which would suggest that inhaling vapor cannot possibly be as bad for one’s lungs as inhaling actual smoke.
E-cigs duplicate the experience of smoking
One of the most appealing aspects of the V2 e-cigarette is that it feels like an actual cigarette when held in one’s hand. The product is a narrow cylinder with the same diameter as a normal cigarette and only slightly longer than the latter. So, when one holds the product in one’s hand, one’s gestures and body language strongly resembles the same that one used to have when one smoked normal cigarettes. This makes it much easier to actual switch away from normal cigarettes and toward the V2 e-cigarette. When one is a smoker, one’s body becomes used to the characteristic gestures of smoking, including raising one’s hand every now and again, moving from inside to outside, and so on. In this context, the most difficult part of stopping smoking may well consist not of leaving of the nicotine itself, but rather of breaking of the more general lifestyle and body habits of being a smoker.
Psychological elements of e-cigs
This is congruent with insights from the discipline of psychology regarding the idea of conditioning (see Hall). The main idea here is that through experience, the body gets almost neurologically programmed to move in certain ways in response to certain kinds of stimuli. The suggestion can be made that the reason that quitting smoking so difficult is not just the specific neurological addiction to nicotine per se, but rather to the broader neurological pattern of moving like a smoker. In this context, the fact that the V2 e-cigarette both aesthetically and pragmatically feels like a normal smoke has a great deal of value, insofar as it allows the normal smoker to simply focus on quitting the normal cigarette and not on all the other aspects of neurology of moving like a smoker—an important aspect of the problem of quitting cigarettes.
V2’s branding strategy
V2 is one company within the emerging e-cigarette industry. And the company’s selection of its own name can only be called an instance of truly great marketing. This is because the name V2 is a riff on the concept of “version 2.0”, or an upgrade in hardware or software within the domain of technology. V2 is essentially presenting itself as the provider of a new and modern way to consume nicotine for a new and modern era, while at the same time not sacrificing any of the quality associated with the old way. This can be seen, for example, in the product description that V2 has written for its cartridges:
“Taste. Trust. Technology. V2 award-winning cartridges feature authentic flavor profiles, with five nicotine strengths to choose from.”
The emphasis on authenticity, along with the reference to technology, encapsulates the basic idea of itself that V2 would like to present to its customers.
Quitting? Or enhancing?: The psychological side of marketing
Given the company’s name, V2‘s marketing and media strategy could well be,
“It’s not quitting, it’s an upgrade.”
Psychologically speaking, this is brilliant, because although many smokers would like to stop their habit, virtually no one would really want to think of himself as a “quitter.” The term quitter generally has a strong negative connotation within modern society: it suggests that one is of weak character and does not have the tenacity needed to persevere in an endeavor. For example, Binns has written an article on childrearing entitled, “Is Your Child a Quitter?” It is quite obvious that almost every parent would like to believe that this is not the case. In this context, V2 has branded itself in such a way that it can present its products as not a way to quit smoking normal cigarettes but rather an actual enhancement of normal cigarettes: the V2 e-cigarette would be the normal cigarette, version 2.0. The metaphor thus becomes one not of quitting but rather one of growth and development. Clearly, this is psychologically much more appealing, and it is one of the main advantages possessed by V2. Again, the quality and insight of the branding here must be acknowledged as nothing short of sheer brilliance.
SWOT analysis for V2
1. Strengths of V2
- Brilliance of its branding. When people decide to buy a product, they look at not only the quality of the product itself but also at the way in which the product compares to what it is intended to replace. In marketing, this is essentially a business comparison strategy. Again, V2‘s branding itself contains the associations of possibility and growth—values that are inherently attractive to almost any potential customer.
- Strong research and development. Over time, the company has released new and upgraded products and positions those products at the cutting edge of the e-cigarette industry. The value of such research and development is enhanced by the fact that it fits so well with the company’s branding.
2. Weaknesses of V2
- V2 clearly needs to work on its product distribution model. Most of V2‘s products would not seem to be readily available at most stores that sell items involving nicotine.
- There is often a delay of up to two weeks when one purchases products through V2‘s own company website. This can be especially problematic given the nature of the product in question here: the e-cigarette still delivers nicotine to the body of the user, and the consistent user of V2‘s products will surely begin feeling the need for a nicotine fix if he runs out of cartridges for his device. If such cartridges are not readily available, then this would be likely to prompt a relapse into normal smoking, or the shift of loyalties to a more readily available e-cigarette brand. Both for the sake of its customers and to ensure that it retains its market, it is thus imperative for V2 to work on improving its product distribution infrastructure.
3. Opportunities for V2 –
- The decline of normal smoking, and efforts of states like California to discourage it, presents a huge window of opportunity for the rise of the e-cigarette, with the e-cigarette potentially being a more healthful and more modern way of engaging in recreational nicotine usage. Since the e-cigarette involves neither tobacco nor smoke, it is on ambiguous terrain, and it is able to circumvent most if not all of the regulations controlling the use of normal cigarettes.
- Various laws that prohibit smoking in more and more places. For example, one can no longer smoke in the bars of most major cities; this is a state of affairs that would have been unthinkable a mere couple decades ago. Some of these laws also include regulations that apply to e-cigarette.
- Insofar as this is the case, V2 is extremely well-positioned to capitalize on this opportunity, especially given that the company’s own branding specifically connotes the values of technology, progress, and a new way consuming nicotine for a new age.
4. Threats confronting V2 –
- The general (and often irrational) backlash against the e-cigarette in general. This threat admittedly makes no sense, in light of the extant research evidence regarding the huge health benefits that could be brought about by normal smokers switching to the e-cigarette. As the Ross wonders about the cause of this hostility to e-cigarettes:
“it is the official public-health agencies, such as the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, that are fighting this public-health miracle. Even worse, they are using tactics akin to the deceptions and manipulations we recall from the cigarette makers of the 20th century. One of their more egregious tactics is simply redefining ‘tobacco’ and ‘smoke’ to include e-cigs, which are linked to neither” (paragraph 2).
- One may suspect, for example, that some of these stakeholders are in the pockets of Big Tobacco. In any event, though, what is clear is that a general public hostility toward e-cigarettes, cultivated by certain stakeholders including public health agencies, is a threat to V2 in particular and the e-cigarette industry in general.
V2 has written a business plan such that it has a great deal of internal strength and a great deal of potential to take advantage of the opportunities in the current environment. However, the company must ensure that it is able to get its products to customers in a timely way, and that it is able to navigate the emerging legal environment regarding e-cigarettes. Despite these challenges, V2 is well-positioned within the e-cigarette market and can expect to meet with success over the coming times.
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “Electronic Cigarettes.” Jul. 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2016. .
Binns, Corey. “Is Your Child a Quitter?” Today. 8 Jul. 2013. Web. 21 May 2016. .
Hall, Richard H. “Neurological Basis of Classical Conditioning.” 1998. Web. 21 May 2016. .
Robertson, Campbell. “New Orleans Bars Issue Last Call for Smoking.” New York Times. 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2016. .
Ross, Gilbert. “The Anti E-Cigarette Conspiracy.” National Review. 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2016. gilbert-ross>.
Sullum, Jacob. “Study Confirms that E-Cigarettes Generate Virtually No Toxins.” Reason. 4 Mar. 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2016. .
V2. “Home.” 2016. Web. 21 May 2016. .
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