The vaping industry is in a constant state of change. Every year, companies in the industry develop new technologies and invent new e-liquid flavor profiles. Consumers’ preferences change, and trends appear. Plenty of new e-liquid trends have appeared this year, and the vaping industry has continued to evolve. So, what are the hottest e-liquid trends of 2019, and how will those trends affect the industry over the next year? Let’s take a look at how e-liquid has evolved this year.
E-Liquid Packaging Has Become More Mature
This year, we’ve seen the FDA and FTC finally take a stand against e-liquid companies that have gone too far with labels resembling the labels of cereals and snack foods. Those e-liquids have either been changed or removed from the market, and e-liquid packaging has become more mature and understated as a result. Leading the way are companies like Vaper Empire. Their e-liquid packaging has the very adult-oriented look that you can expect virtually all e-liquid companies to adopt in 2020 and beyond.
Nicotine Salt E-Liquids Have Hit the Mainstream
Nicotine salt e-liquids became truly mainstream products in 2019. The nicotine salt e-liquid trend has coincided with the pod vaping trend, and both product categories have grown together. With the success of products like the JUUL e-cigarette, pod systems have obviously become the near-universal choice of new vapers in the United States. An unexpected side effect, though, is that experienced vapers have also switched to pod systems. It’s possible that the success of pod systems among experienced vapers has something to do with a backlash against sweetened e-liquids and coil gunk. Either way, nicotine salt e-liquid is definitely here to stay. Eventually, it may even replace standard freebase nicotine e-liquid.
Lower-strength nicotine salt e-liquids have already started to appear on the market for those with sub-ohm vaping setups, and those e-liquids will probably grow in popularity over the coming year. The good news for pod system users is that the lower-strength nicotine salt e-liquids will eventually force all nicotine salt e-liquid makers to increase their bottle sizes and lower their prices. By the end of 2020, nic salts should be a lot more affordable for everyone.
Same Flavor Profile, Different Name
One thing you’re going to see a lot more of in 2020 – in the United States, at least – is e-liquids with very familiar flavors sold under new names. The reason for that trend is the fact that new vaping products can’t legally be released in the United States unless those products first go through pre-market approval with the FDA. Eventually every vaping product on the market will have to go through pre-market approval eventually. Until the application deadline, though – whenever that may be – products on the market as of August 8, 2016 can remain on the market.
For some time after the FDA released its initial regulations for the vaping industry, many companies ignored the regulations and continued releasing new products. That’s still happening today, but it’s a lot less common now that the FDA has begun investigating suspected sellers of unauthorized new products.
While an e-liquid company can’t release a new product legally without going through the pre-market approval process, an e-liquid can legally be “new” if it’s an existing product sold under a different name. E-liquid companies can therefore buy existing formulations from white-label e-liquid makers – formulations that were created and on the market under different names before August 8, 2016 – and sell those formulations as “new” products under new names. If you buy a few e-liquids in 2020 that taste remarkably like e-liquids you’ve tried in the past, that’s the reason why.
The E-Liquid Industry Will Enter a Consolidation Phase
In a new industry that’s quickly growing, many small businesses will pop up around the same time. That’s what has happened in the vaping industry. There are so many small e-liquid brands in the United States that it’s difficult for any single brand to jump out ahead and become a true industry leader. E-liquid makers in the U.S. aren’t competing against the JUUL juggernaut; they’re competing against each other to capture market share among the sub-ohm vaping crowd. There are many successful e-liquid makers in the country. The potential problem, though, is that no single company has enough revenue to go through the incredibly expensive pre-market authorization process.
The application deadline is looming ever closer, and one way to gain the necessary revenue is by buying other e-liquid makers. It’s likely that the e-liquid industry will begin to enter a major consolidation phase before the end of 2019. E-liquid brands will need to merge with or acquire other brands and pool their resources if they want to have any hope of remaining on the market after the pre-market authorization deadline.
An E-Liquid Black Market Will Appear
The long-term effects of FDA regulation will change the vaping industry in more ways than one. For starters, the ban on new products in the United States doesn’t affect companies in other nations. E-liquid makers in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and elsewhere have continued to release new flavors, and people in the United States want to try those flavors – so they’ll import them. It’s not technically legal to import an e-liquid into the United States that isn’t approved for sale here, but it’s also nearly impossible to police. People already import vaping products all the time. Are customs agents really going to examine every package and conduct research to determine whether every imported e-liquid was on the U.S. market as of August 8, 2016? Not likely. Increasingly, people who want to try the latest and greatest e-liquids will get those e-liquids from overseas vendors.
It’s still uncertain that the United States will have much of a vaping industry at all once the FDA pre-market application deadline passes. It is possible that the deadline could be just ten months – or less – away, and no company in the vaping industry has even submitted an application yet. It is entirely possible that only closed-system cigalikes will remain on the market after the deadline. If that happens, an even bigger e-liquid black market will appear. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.