When I first bought a Juul, I was eighteen. I got it for the head rush. I knew that it would give me a quick buzz without making a huge, obnoxious cloud like these vape gods out here. But my friends and I have now been Juuling for over four years, and many of Juul’s customers are starting even younger than eighteen.
A Juul is a vaping device that was invented roughly four years ago. It looks like a USB drive and contains cartridges or “pods” that snap into the device. The pods contain five ingredients: glycerol, propylene glycol, nicotine, benzoic acid, and food-grade flavoring. The one most people know about and fear is nicotine. It makes users dependent on their Juul, which they don’t even realize until they’re buying new pods every week.
My friend Kevin said he picked Juul because of how convenient it is. Now, it’s less of a convenience and more of an addiction. “I spend every dollar I have on Juul. I’m so addicted to nicotine and I didn’t realize it until I started vaping a pack a day.” To older generations, this sounds way too much like cigarettes. We start young, become addicted, then stay hooked for life. So how did we let a product with many harmful and unknown chemicals fool us again?
The Five Ways Juul Tricked Us into Smoking Again:
Market to Everyone
Juul has monopolized the industry by appealing to both older generations that want to quit cigarettes, and to teens who may not understand or care about the serious implications of nicotine use. They offer flavors that are appealing to young people like mango, fruit medley, or crème in addition to their tobacco, menthol, and mint options. They target teens with flashy colors, simplistic marketing, and after-sale services. And it’s working. A study by the Truth Initiative found that “fifteen to seventeen-year-olds have over sixteen times greater odds to be current Juul users compared to those aged twenty-five to thirty-four. Frequency patterns suggest that youth may not be merely experimenting with Juul, but using it regularly.” Juul has been able to market to older customers by claiming to be an alternative to smoking while getting teens hooked on nicotine. This demographic range allows Juul to keep a broad target market.
Juul is an expert at marketing, most likely because they don’t sell Juuls as a tobacco product, but rather as a new piece of tech. Their strategy, similar to Apple’s marketing strategy, is based on their simple, superior products. Like Apple, Juul released an innovative device focused on simplicity, user-experience, quality, and an attractive design. This strategy is often seen in industries that produce high-tech or complicated products like computers, phones, and even cars. Juuls appeal to the masses rather than enthusiasts, similar to iPhones or Macs. Even the fact that vaping is a relatively young idea works in Juul’s favor, since they can market their product as “safer” than smoking, even though it could still cause harmful effects.
Even though Juul has had many lawsuits filed against them, they still find a way to come out on top. The minute you step outside of a parking garage at CCSU, you will most likely see someone ‘ripping’ their Juul. Something we may not realize is that every person who rips their Juul in public is offering free publicity for the brand. This is happening at college, in high school, and most disturbingly: middle school. As Juul gets more popular by the day, parents and doctors are becoming concerned. “Kids in my son’s middle school, my daughter’s high school, they vape. A lot of them are strongly addicted to these high-nicotine products,” said Sven-Eric Jordt, Ph.D., assistant professor of cancer biology from Duke University School of Medicine in a recent New York Times article.
“I’m so addicted to nicotine and I didn’t realize it until I started vaping a pack a day.”
How May I Help You?
One of Juul’s most effective features is their after-sale service. They have a strong human resources team because, although their products are extremely popular, there is still room for error. When you offer good service, people notice and they take advantage. I’ve dealt with a lot of customer service in my life and I can positively say that Juul is without a doubt number one. Juul has a one-year warranty on their product that covers defects and other problems. I’ve had Juuls break, but every time I’ve contacted the company, they’ve sent me a new one. They respond within minutes, they are understanding, and they help in any way they possibly can. This service leaves little to no room for unhappy customers. “I have contacted Juul on five separate occasions and they responded within minutes with support,” said Luigi, a hometown friend. This customer service is very strong considering most competing e-cigarette companies such as Suorin or VGOD take weeks– sometimes months– to respond.
Juuls and Juul products are very easy to get your hands on. You can purchase them online, only requiring a few verification steps to prove you’re over twenty-one. They also sell them at just about every gas station and vape shop, so youngsters can get one if they know someone who’s older. The colorful, vibrant pack of Juul pods seems cheaper than a pack of cigarettes because the device is reusable, but a pack of pods costs anywhere from sixteen to thirty dollars. The fruity, more appealing flavors cost more because they are trying to keep them out of the hands of the youth, but teenagers are buying them anyway. The majority of Juul users use roughly one to two packs a week. That ends up being forty dollars a week, which adds up to about two thousand dollars a year. Juul is fooling us into spending a crazy amount of money on harmful chemicals just like tobacco once again.
Juul’s approach to selling their products is unique in the electronic smoking device industry. In a very short period of time they’ve created the top selling device in an expanding industry that’s over four times as old as the company itself. According to a research letter by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2016 to 2017, Juul sales rose by over six-hundred percent and accounted for over seventy percent of e-cigarette sales as of September 2018. They have remained the industry’s most popular company with few to no new products. I’ve tried to quit many times but I keep finding myself back where it all began. Juuling has become more than a fixation or habit. Everyone knows it, but nicotine keeps us hooked. My advice: best way to stop is to never start.
Headline Photo Credit Bailey Mackowitz for Blue Muse Magazine.
Bailey Mackowitz is a staff writer for Blue Muse Magazine.