April 2, 2016
By Maria Verven
From its humble beginnings in 2009 to today, ProVape and its ProVari line of products have come a long way, baby. Manufactured in the U.S. and sold in over 68 countries, ProVari has grown into a top-rated personal vaporizer thanks to its dependability, durability, safety and performance – not to mention thousands of raving fans.
“ProVari has a huge fan base,” said Phil Busardo, a popular reviewer. “If you were to post something negative, fans sense something negative and will come and vigorously defend it.”
In other words, ProVari is blowing away the competition.
David Flagg, ProVape CEO and a full-time vaper who hasn’t had a cigarette since he switched to vaping in 2009, said he and his business partner Phillip Schuessler weren’t happy with most Chinese devices due to their poor performance, lack of quality control and safety.
“When we first got into the market, we saw a lot of poorly designed products,” Flagg said. “So we set out to improve on those designs. We didn’t just want to make a premium device; we also wanted to keep manufacturing here in the U.S. to support American workers.”
Flagg said everything – from engineering designs to circuit boards to the metal work on all ProVari products – is made in Monroe, Wash., a small town about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Since the release of the ProVari 1 in 2010, ProV ape has released several different models, including the ProVari 2, 2.5 and 3, the ProVari Classic and the ergonomically designed ProVari Radius, launched last October.
Starting with only four staffers in a 6,000 square foot facility, ProVape has grown to over 40 employees working out of a 24,000 square foot facility. “It’s nice having all the extra space,” Flagg said. “Having departments instead of everyone crammed into a small area really helps us be more organized.”
From Word of Mouth to Top Google Ranking
In the early days, there was very little marketing to speak of; word of mouth from customers was their only advertising. Even so, thanks to great reviews, sales were going well.
In 2013, they hired Eventige, a full-service marketing agency, to update the website. “Our focus had to be on building and testing products and shipping orders,” Flagg said. “We looked around at several agencies, but connected with the Eventige team and their vision.”
Eventige lists dozens of clients, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Ford Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott, Microsoft, Skype, Uber and The Wall Street Journal. Their client list also includes Logic and Ecig Caddy. Alexei Alankin, CEO and founder, is a vaper and passionate about the industry. Eventige was a key sponsor at SFATA’s annual meeting last year.
Alankin and the Eventige team came up with several suggestions and marketing ideas, eventually honing their strategy and focusing on new product launches. They started by creating a unique look and feel for every ProVape product page on the website. As the relationship with ProVape grew, so did their engagement until eventually Eventige assumed responsibility for all of ProVape’s social media, website and marketing.
Eventige created and implemented a global brand strategy that aligned all brand marketing activities into a cohesive and milestone driven roadmap. The goal was to increase brand awareness and global sales to smokers as well as current vapers.
“We first focused on developing an online marketing strategy,
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and then created the materials needed to reach the mass market,” Alankin said. “Our experience in e-commerce and online positioning helped us navigate this difficult terrain and find unique ways to propel the ProVape message forward.”
Alankin said they boosted online sales by focusing on inbound lead strategies that elevated ProVape’s organic ranking in Google searches. After implementing both on- and off-page proven SEO (search engine optimization) strategies, they then improved the website load speeds and user interface design and optimized the website conversion rate, turning more visitors into buyers and eventually fans.
Thanks to these efforts, ProVape increased its search traffic by a whopping 1,600 percent. ProVape.com continues to hold the number one position on Google and other search engines for several important keyword searches used by people seeking high quality vaping devices. This is a critical strategy, since any business selling vape products cannot use Google AdWords or paid acquisition strategies to generate website traffic.
Quadrupling the Fan Base
Eventige also developed loyalty programs, online contests and social media aggregate platforms to strengthen public opinion, increase sharing and optimize opportunities for the ProVari brand to build a following in the vape community.
On the #VapeProVari fan board, they delivered a daily influx of user-generated content that continues to drive engagement and attraction. This helped quadruple the number of social media fans in a very short period of time. For example, in one campaign, they sent ‘Zombies’ roaming the virtual streets via digital media to promote the Zombie version of the ProVari. This unique design of the classic unit features a coating that looks like blood spatter, and the design was a hit with fans all around the world.
When ProVape got ready to roll out its new ProVari 3, Eventige created custom packaging that emulated the brand’s sleek, elegant, modern look. They also created a campaign to promote the lighter, titanium version of the P3, which weighs 2.1 oz. vs. the 3.8 oz. stainless steel version. Advertisements promoting the Titanium P3’s unique selling features show the ProVari 3 balancing on a fulcrum with a feather.
Retail distribution hit over 900 dealers worldwide with USB keys and loyalty cards included in their point of display promotional packages. Articles have also appeared in major print media such as Reuters, Forbes, and the Daily Caller as well as vape publications VAPE News and Vapor Voice.
Today, ProVape continues to experience aggressive growth rates; even celebrities like Katherine Heigl are using a ProVari device. The partnership between ProVape and Eventige is also as strong as ever.
“Four years ago when I started vaping, I was looking for that perfect product,” Alankin said. “Ever since I met David (Flagg), the ProVari was it for me. Over the years, I upgraded whenever a new model came out. I’ve also helped many friends and family make the switch.”
Meanwhile, Alankin is always experimenting with ways to drive new customers to the ProVari brand. “It’s very much a rotating platter when it comes to what to try next,” he said. “We’re always trying to see what gets the most attention.”
The original “Vaping VampTM,” Maria Verven is a 35-year P.R. veteran and owner of Verve P.R, a marketing firm focused on the vape industry.
– Maria Verven
Enter to win a year’s worth of rechargeable Puf Cigs cartridges (180 cartridges of your choice, 12 rechargeable batteries) by submitting your email address and requested information. Three lucky winners will be chosen at random on June 1, 2016 and notified via email as well as announced on Puf’s social media platforms.
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All entry submissions must be submitted by person(s) 21 years of age or older. Contest is open to the public. Employees of the Company, the Contest’s participating sponsors and their advertising agencies and members of the immediate family of any such persons are not eligible to participate and win. The term “immediate family” includes spouses, siblings, parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren, whether as “in-laws,” or by current or past marriage(s), remarriage(s), adoption, co-habitation or other family extension, and any other persons residing at the same household whether or not related.
Email addresses and information will not be disclosed to third parties. There will be three winners
Events International, a team of events organizers, are bringing another event to the vaping world. The next exhibition, the Baltic Vape Show, will be in Riga, Latvia July 29 and 30. The show will include representatives from three countries: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Events International said in an email to Agent VAPE that they are confident that exhibitions and themed events provide a huge boost for our developing industry. Take a look to choose the best booth.
For any questions please contact email@example.com.
By Patricia I. Kovacevic
Where do we stand at federal level with vaping products regulation? As of the end of February, the proposed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deeming vaping products (and other products) tobacco products appears to still be with the Office of Management and Budget of the White House. In fact, as late as mid-February, the Office of Management and Budget took additional meetings with interested parties, specifically with senators, on the so-called deeming rule.
However, in response to general concerns regarding accessibility of nicotine-containing liquids by unintended individuals, on Jan. 13, Congress passed the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015, which was then sent to the President of the United States and was signed into law on January 28, 2016.
The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act gives the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) jurisdiction over anyone selling a “liquid nicotine container” in or into the U.S. and controls the packaging of such containers under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act. The act requires any nicotine, which is offered for sale in liquid nicotine containers, to be packaged in accordance with the CPSC’s standards and to pass testing in accordance with the method described below.
Liquid nicotine container is defined as “a package […] (i) from which nicotine in a solution or other form is accessible through normal and foreseeable use by a consumer; and (ii) that is used to hold soluble nicotine in any concentration, but it does not include a sealed, pre-filled, and disposable container of nicotine in a solution or other form in which such container is inserted directly into an electronic cigarette, electronic nicotine
delivery system, or other similar product, if the nicotine in the container is inaccessible through customary or reasonably foreseeable
handling or use, including reasonably foreseeable ingestion or other contact by children.“ In lay terms, cigalikes and sealed refill cartridges need not meet the child-safe packaging requirement.
The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act does not preempt the Food and Drug Administration’s future authority over vaping products or other nicotine containing products packaging. The act, however, mandates that the Food and Drug Administration consult with the CPSC if the FDA “adopts, maintains, enforces, or imposes or continues in effect any packaging requirement for liquid nicotine containers, including a child-resistant packaging requirement […] taking into consideration the expertise of the Commission in implementing and enforcing this Act and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 (15 U.S.C. 1471 et seq.).” One could wonder – is this recent law
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in fact contemplating an erosion of the Food and Drug Administration’s authority over the packaging of vaping products?
An important consequence of this lawpre-empting requirements in place by state and local authorities. The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act does not specifically address the preemption issue, however it is well established that CPSC regulation will preempt state and local requirements applicable to the same product. Thus, the Poison Prevention Packaging Act specifically preempts state and local standards on child resistant packaging that are not identical to the Consumer Product Safety Commission standard. The broader issue of state and local preemption with respect to vaping products is addressed in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Certain state laws adopted to date with respect to vaping products manufacturing or specifications will become inapplicable if vaping products are deemed tobacco products. One could argue that states had affirmative knowledge of such future FDA regulation since the 2010 Sottera decision and should not have gone through the trouble of regulating the manufacture or labeling of vaping products, among other things, as this will fall under the FDA’s jurisdiction.
In conclusion, the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act is now the governing federal statute with respect to child resistant packaging for vaping products as defined and limited in the act itself. Manufacturers have 180 days to comply with the act, meaning until July 25, 2016. Since compliance may require the replacement of some existing containers that do not meet the CPSC’s standards, manufacturers should take steps to meet these requirements soon.
Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015 full text: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s142/text
Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2012-title16-vol2/pdf/CFR-2012-title16-vol2-sec1700-20.pdf
By Julie Selesnick
To say I solved vaping might be a tiny-bit of an exaggeration. In a perfect world, where vaping is embraced as the premier method of smoking cessation, and the mutual societal goal is to make it even better and even safer than it already is, there are very few federal rules and regulations that would be necessary to properly regulate the industry. Understanding vaping is 95% safer than smoking and is the cause of the unprecedented decline in the smoking rate occurring in the United States and worldwide, the following regulations would be more than sufficient to help people who want to quit smoking by vaping.
Some restrictive regulations are inevitable, and I am one of the vapers who would be ok with moderate regulations aimed at avoiding or limiting the most dangerous vapingrelated situations. This includes:
- Requiring the caps on e-liquid bottles to be childproof. This is a no-brainer and I cannot fathom any argument against it.
- Require e-liquid bottles to display the ingredients and carry a nicotine warning label. It is dangerous to ingest liquid nicotine, and people should know that, especially so they keep their e-liquids away from children and pets. People should also have access to the ingredient list for any e-juice they are thinking of purchasing, so an informed decision can be made of what products to purchase.
- Ban the use of Diacetyl in e-liquids. Do I think anyone is going to vape enough diacetyl containing e-liquid to contract “popcorn lung”? No, I don’t. However, diacetyl is a carcinogen, and there is absolutely no need to ingest it. I know this might upset some vapers, but there are so many choices; why vape something that could lead to a deadly disease when it’s not necessary. I feel the same about formaldehyde and any other carcinogens or additives that cause additional health risks.
- Do something to regulate the batteries used in mechanical mods, box mods, and electronic cigarettes to minimize explosions. We cannot regulate away user error, but we can implement some reasonable standards that will ensure only high quality batteries that have been quality checked are used in devices sold to the vaping public.
- Establish a reasonable review process for new products. Perhaps the federal government could work with an organization like AEMSA to help all of the current e-liquid makers and future e-liquid manufacturers adhere to a set of standards and obtain certification. This should be done with an eye to preserving small business and helping those whose products do not meet the standards get into compliance.
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I also believe there should be positive, pro-vaping regulation. Given the research to date both on the comparative safety of e-cigarettes to traditional cigarettes, and the unprecedented success people have seen by using vaping as a smoking cessation device, it might be appropriate to include federal legislation such as:
- Taking the regulation of e-cigarettes out of the tobacco realm and into the same regulatory realm as other smoking cessation devices. This is something the pharmaceutical lobby will resist, a lobby that is hostile to the e-cigarette industry as a whole. The New York times reported last year that the makers of Nicorette gum, GlaxoSmithKline, and the manufacturers of nicotine patches, Johnson & Johnson, lead the strong opposition against e-cigarettes. The evidence, however, supports this, and the public health community and our elected officials need to be on the side of the people, not the side of the lobbyists.
- Set a federal safety standard that, if met, allows insurance coverage for e-cigarettes to assist those who wish to quit smoking. This is the law in Great Britain as of January 2016, and it is the strongest way government can help people who have been unsuccessful in the past to quit smoking.
- Fund a system devoted to the funding of research to increase vaping safety, instead of funding studies looking for ghosts to debunk it as a means of smoking cessation. Imagine what we could do if we actually had grants available to make e-liquids and hardware safer.
There You Have It
That’s it. Leave other rules to the states, who should be instructed (and have federal funding tied to) legislating e-cigarettes in a manner consistent with what they actually are: a legitimate nicotine replacement therapy option and the preferred method of smoking cessation for people who have failed in the past.
Yes, it will be annoying if your state or municipality rules that you cannot vape inside of your favorite restaurant, but once there is a federal regulation declaring vapor products separate from tobacco, restaurants will have a strong argument that they should have the option of including a vaping section if they wish. More importantly, if federal health policy on vaping is made around the concept that vaping is the most effective technology yet introduced in the war against smoking, instead of treating it like a tobacco product, then the states will take the cue and make regulations accordingly.
Before any of these common sense rules and regulations can come to fruition, the conversation needs a fundamental change. Instead of electronic cigarettes being considered counter-culture addictions like regular cigarettes, vaping advocacy must focus on changing the public perception of vaping. The public has to be made to understand how much safer vaping is than smoking, and how much more effective it is in helping potential quitters than any other smoking cessation device available to the smoking population. When we get there, we can easily solve the issues surrounding vaping regulation, and make everybody happy. Until that day comes, Keep Calm and Vape On.