V2 Cigs, America’s No. 1 online volume retailer of electronic cigarettes has launched a franchise in the Czech Republic. The arrival of V2 Cigs comes at a time when much of the country is debating whether or not the government should ban smoking in public places. Although the timing of the V2 Cigs launch is purely coincidental, it does raise an interesting point: Are we asking the wrong question?
Electronic cigarettes are not new to the Czech Republic. But V2 Cigs represents the latest evolution of e-cigs, and it very well could change the way people have smoked for hundreds of years.
Electronic cigarettes were invented only 10 years ago in China. Initially, there was very little fanfare. Then the technology began to migrate to the West, where it was adopted by entrepreneurs who saw e-cigs as a legitimate way to chip away at the $50 billion global tobacco cigarette market.
The first e-cigs were bulky affairs that sacrificed aesthetics for functionality. As the technology improved, e-cigs began to look, feel and taste like the real thing. That’s when the industry took off. Sales of e-cigs have doubled every year since 2008, and will top $1 billion this year. Most industry analysts predict gross sales will reach $3 billion in 2015, and continue to grow.
“Consumption of e-cigs may overtake traditional cigarettes in the next decade,” said Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog.
V2 Cigs was founded in 2009 by two young entrepreneurs, Andries Verleur and Dan Recio, who serve as the company’s CEO and President, respectively. The pair charted a course for V2 Cigs based on a disciplined, long-term approach.
“From the beginning, we decided to reinvest most of our profits back into V2 Cigs,” said Verleur. “We wanted to create the best product on the market, and we knew the only way to accomplish that was to control every step of the process, from research and development to manufacturing and distribution.
After four years of heavy investment in its own infrastructure, V2 Cigs now stands as the industry’s only fully integrated e-cig company. And that enables V2 Cigs to thrive in an environment of constant innovation.
“We never lose that sight of the fact that we’re essentially a technology company,” said Recio. “That’s why we’re constantly upgrading our products. We recently added a “smart chip” to our chargers to make them more efficient and prevent overcharging. We don’t advertise that type of change, and our customers may not even care about it, but the net effect is that our electronics are more reliable, our e-cigs taste better and our customers enjoy the most authentic smoking experience possible,” said Recio.
An example of V2 Cigs’ commitment to quality control is that all of V2’s electronic components are tested and retested to ensure the highest levels of reliability. The company is so confident of its procedures that it is one of the few to offer lifetime warranties on all its electronics.
No other e-cig company in the world goes to the lengths V2 Cigs does to ensure the quality of its flavor cartridges and e-liquids.V2 Cigs stamps every package with both an expiration date and a batch number. That enables anyone to access on-line test results for the exact product they’re holding in their hands.
Currently, there are more than 400 e-cig companies. Many of these companies are merely labeling and reselling electronics and e-liquids, with little consideration for product quality, and are import-export traffickers merely capitalizing on the e-cig boom.
The rush of interest in e-cigs has been driven in part by a tobacco cigarette industry that is so heavily regulated and taxed that the cost of its products has become a burden for its most loyal consumers. By contrast, e-cigs can deliver the same levels of satisfaction at a fraction of the cost. Consumers who make the switch to e-cigs typically can save thousands of crowns per year.
For more than two years, V2 Cigs has been ranked as the No. 1 online retailer of electronic cigarettes.
Not content with dominating its domestic market, V2 Cigs simultaneously launched Europe through Prague.
“The Czech Republic is centrally located on the European continent and features a population of smokers who could both appreciate and benefit from the advantages of V2 Cigs,” said Verleur. “We also enjoy the people, culture and business environment here.”