Juul Takes London By Storm
Juul Takes London By Storm
San Francisco vape pen manufacturers Juul Labs Inc. are taking a big gamble on expanding their operation beyond the United States market. Last month, Juul was valued at $15 billion for a funding round that eventually raised over $1.2 billion in investments for a global initiative. That news was quickly followed by an announcement that they were setting up their first international office in London, promising more to come.
Juul devices will soon be offered in over 250 vape shops across the U.K. and starter packs will cost 29.99 pounds ($39.66), according to a report in Reuters. The launch will parallel the company’s redoubled efforts to keep vapor products out of the hands of teenagers. With this, the company looks to continue reshaping the vaping industry.
Already, the company has done a lot to change the market in the states. In just three years Juul rose from being a local Silicon Valley startup to landing as a dominant force in the American vaping market. This quick turnaround has made the Juul brand a model of success competitors hope to emulate. For example, Imperial Tobacco one of the largest tobacco and vaping companies in the U.K., recently created their own devices in order to replicate and compete with the success of Juul Labs Inc.
The upward trajectory of Juul has also made them the subject of controversy. Critics include the U.S. government, who argue that Juul inappropriately markets to kids. The most public example of this crackdown was in April when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent letters to companies warning against the sale of vapor and tobacco products to minors. Following that stern notice, Juul Labs Inc. announced a $30 million initiative to combat underaged use.
Grant Winterton, Juul Labs’ president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, that their expansion into London was offering a new “social and public policy” which would only use adults in marketing campaigns and make sure that all their ‘brand ambassadors’ are at least 28 years old.
“It’s true there are too many teens using our product, but they are far the minority,” Winterton told Reuters.
The president said that the decision to go to London first was because it was located within such a vape-friendly country. The United Kingdom has been one of the more progressive nations when it comes to permissive vapor laws, the government has steadily been rolling out programs that advocate for vaping in order to help quit cigarettes. Additionally, British government agencies were some of the earliest to acknowledge that harm reduction policies could help people quit cigarettes.
One unaddressed issue concerning the launch of Juul abroad, particularly in European nations, is the high nicotine content of their liquid pods. All products currently available in the US market are illegal for distribution in the EU due to their nicotine levels. Juul has, however, announced the launch of lower-nicotine pods in the months to come - there's a good chance these moves are related.
While it has yet to be seen whether a reduced-nicotine Juul product can thrive in overseas markets, the company says they're looking at office space in locales including France, Singapore, and Israel in the future.