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The Juul Craze Grips America: Meet the New Face of Vaping in the U.S.

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Estimated 6 min read

Have dju heard?

Of the Juul trend that’s taking America by storm…

If you haven’t touched base with your American vaping friends lately, you might have missed the latest trend that has been making headlines that side of the world.

The JUUL fad.

A Juul is a flat and rectangular electronic cigarette that measures just about the palm of your hand. Assuming, of course, you got a normal palm size.

Trump small hands

The Juul vaporiser has been such a hit that the brand has already been verbalised:

Juul {joo’l} – to vape a particular brand of e-cigarette known as a Juul that resembles a USB and features nicotine juice cartridges known as Juul pods that can be swapped in and out.

We juuled ourselves out last night.

Hey Lisa, Greg and I will be juuling today after class, wanna join us?

Well, not in the English dictionary – yet – but from the way things are going, watch this vape space.

The Juul device bears an uncanny resemblance to a USB stick, albeit with a sleek, metallic finish. In fact, a quick look at it and you might be forgiven for thinking it is some sort of flash drive.

Juul device

It has two major components.

The device itself is the bottom part, which also houses the battery and includes the temperature regulation system.

Juul battery

The upper section is the e juice cartridge (Juul pod) that you plug into the device. The pod doubles up as the mouthpiece.

juul pods

To activate the Juul, all you need to do is simply draw on one end, and voila. It senses when you take a draw and automatically starts to heat up the e liquid, with sensors also detecting the battery level.

When you run out of a cartridge, replacing is as easy as popping out the old and sticking in the new one.

It’s a simple, complete system that doesn’t require any fidgeting with the components, a perfect fit for those who would rather not mess around with e liquid or dripping.

It is little surprise then that the vaporiser has become wildly popular amongst rookie vapers, but do not misinterpret this to mean it’s a pro no-go zone.

It is amazingly convenient even for those who swear by mech mods which can be bothersome particularly when you’re out of the house for long.

Speaking of e-liquids, Juul pods come in a lineup of five flavours:

  • Virginia Tobacco
  • Mint
  • Crème Brulee
  • Fruit Medley
  • Mango

Mango was initially available as a limited-edition flavour, until public demand convinced the company to make it a regular.

JUUL also has a few limited edition pod flavours, the current ones of which include:

  • Classic Tobacco
  • Classic Menthol
  • Cool Cucumber

The Story behind JUUL

JUUL is the brainchild of two graduate students from Stanford, James Monsees and Adam Bowen, two former smokers who set out on a mission to disrupt Big Tobacco.

The pair founded a startup by the name of Ploom in 2007, a brand they would later sell to a Japanese outfit. They then came up with PAX Labs.

It was at PAX Labs that the duo began working on the Juul, settling for a name that was reminiscent of both a unit of energy (joule) and a precious stone (jewel).

Monsees and Bowen decided to make the Juul small while eliminating the need for technical knowhow in the device. This was pivotal, seeing as the offerings from many large brands were unattractively large and usually required users to fidget with coils, wicks, temperature settings and what-not.

They equipped each Juul with its own circuit board and firmware, resulting in a vaporiser that managed to fit into a small device while ultimately guaranteeing better control at the same time.

For the design, they aimed to make users of the Juul feel as if they were doing something entirely new. This is why they avoided a round design and the glowing tip which conjure memories of a cigarette.

But it is in the chemical, or flavor rather, that they made their biggest discovery.

You see, most e-cigs (and regular cigarettes as well) make use of an ammonia-based type of nicotine known as a free base designed to be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream when you inhale it.

However, PAX Labs figured that there was another way they could mimic a cigarette’s rapid nicotine delivery: by adding benzoic acid to nicotine salts. Cartridges from JUUL Labs (aka Juul pods) are thus loaded with a concentrated liquid cocktail made up of the organic acids contained in tobacco leaves and salts.

It was a unique blend that saw PAX Labs patent this nicotine-salt formulation in 2015.

From then on, the Juul was destined for the big time.

What’s all the Hullaballoo about Juuling?

The Juul has been dubbed the iPhone of vaporisers. It brought the cool factor synonymous with that stud Marlboro bloke who lured the masses to smoking with that classic ‘come to where the flavor is’ slogan.

There was just no resisting it.

The result was that smoking became sexy and sophisticated, and people whipped out a smoke with little regard for setting. Shoppers in the supermarket produce aisle. Chefs in their restaurant kitchens. Athletes on the track sidelines. Mothers petting their children. Doctors in their consultation rooms. Teachers in classrooms…

Everyone and their neighbour smoked with reckless abandon.

If you are wondering what this has to do with vaping, nay – juuling – well, it’s because this is the kind of picture the Juul has brought back.

Not that this is a problem, save for one small issue: the shoppers and chefs and athletes and doctors and teachers in this case are not grown-ups, but school-going teenagers.

And as if they are not too young to be vaping in the first place, they are juuling everywhere, and not in bars or vape expos, but in the classroom – albeit discreetly.

Juul has become the token vape on high school and college campuses.

Marketing Tsunami

Juul has really taken over the vape market in America.

Up until 2017, JUUL Labs had sold a whopping one million Juul devices, an amazing feat considering the vape pen was launched just in 2015. This saw Juul Labs capture 32% of the total e-cig market share – according to Nielsen data – with an incredible USD$224 million in retail sales generated in 2017 alone.

A Juul device goes for USD$35 online. A full kit comes with four cartridges (pods) which are sold separately at $16, bringing the total to about $50.

The price tag notwithstanding, Juul has gone completely viral, selling faster than the proverbial hot cakes. JUUL Labs churns out 20 million products a month, including devices and cartridges.

These swelling figures saw the company struggle to cope with demand, as well as claims related to quality control.

But never ones to let things spill over, JUUL Labs moved to nip these issues in the bud by hitting the brakes with regard to growing its footprint. They are purposefully leaving some of the 12,000 convenience stores that sell Juul devices out of stock.

As well, the company has invested in making improvements to the machinery used to produce devices and pods, all initiatives the company acknowledges are starting to pay off.


So, have you Juuled yet?

An independent Internet professional currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. Helping people and businesses prosper online since 2012. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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  1. Pingback: JUUL Has Landed In The U.K.! July 19, 2018

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