It’s been three years since JUUL first launched, yet it already claims 72% of the market for e-cigarettes in the United States.
Founded by former smokers Adam Bowen and James Monsees, the story of JUUL’s rampant sales growth begins with the quality of its design and the company’s commitment to R&D.
Bowen and Monsees met in 2003 while studying product design at Stanford. Instead of mimicking traditional cigarettes, they wanted to modernise the experience of smoking by creating a designer product with its own look and feel. “It’s undeniably cooler than that insipid mess of tubes and glowsticks” that other e-cigarette companies manufacture, writes Wired.
JUUL looks like a flash drive and uses a coil to heat nicotine pods, which create satisfying plumes of vapour. The mechanism is temperature controlled, so it doesn’t produce dangerous chemicals but delivers a swift hit of nicotine with each puff.
Juul’s team of product engineers and designers understand that smoking is a ritual. To make ‘juuling’ a ritual of its own, they have incorporated their own habitual features into the design. Tap twice, and the LED light blinks. Wave the Juul around, and it lights up like a rainbow.
Now that JUUL has taken on big tobacco companies, it could actually disrupt the entire medical industry. As Monsees told Wired, “The underlying technology, the vaporization technology, is so valuable and can be really disruptive in a lot of different markets.”
There is a downside to JUUL’s carefully thought-out design and user experience. This month, the FDA launched an investigation into JUUL’s marketing tactics, demanding it share documents about its marketing, focus groups and research to determine whether JUUL has intentionally cultivated younger devotees.
JUUL’s lobbying and marketing initiatives are under scrutiny, but this is unlikely to curb the brand’s expansion globally. This year, the American vaporizer market alone will grow to $5.5 billion dollars, up 25% from 2017, according to Wells Fargo. By reimagining the experience of smoking, JUUL has emerged as the dominant player, utilising technology to design a cleaner, safer product with the tagline, ‘For Smokers. By Design’.