Juul Labs Inc.’s dominance of the electronic-cigarette market has increased to a 76.1 percent market share even with the potential of tighter Food and Drug Administration regulations casting a large shadow.
Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog issued her latest report Tuesday, based primarily on Nielsen data for the four-week period that ended Nov. 17.
Juul’s market share increased from 74.5 percent.
The second-place market share of Vuse by R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. dropped from 9.6 percent to 9.1 percent.
Juul entered the mainstream retail marketplace in 2015, and is sold in the form of a pen or a USB device.
That design makes it easy to hide, which FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said has contributed to “an epidemic” of teenage use, albeit based on a small sample size nationally.
Most of the latest Nielsen data was collected prior to the FDA announcing Nov. 17 plans to limit e-cig flavors to tobacco, menthol and mint.
On Nov. 14, Juul said it would start selling only those flavors at more than 90,000 convenience stores and vape shops.
The creme, cucumber, fruit and mango flavors being removed remain available at www.juul.com, but with heightened age-restriction policies and age-21 verification that requires consumers to provide their name, date of birth, permanent address and the last four digits of their Social Security number.
For some stores, however, the removal will be only temporary — the four flavors will return to locations that can meet the planned FDA age-verification policies on purchases.
A year ago, Juul was at 59.3 percent market share, Vuse at 17.1 percent, MarkTen XL of NuMark was third at 8.7 percent, blu eCigs of Fontem Ventures was fourth at 6.5 percent and Logic of Japan Tobacco was fifth at 3.9 percent.
By comparison, for the most recent period, blu eCigs is at 6.3 percent, MarkTen is at 4.3 percent and Logic at 2.3 percent.
Herzog said that e-cigs are projected to reach her estimate of $6.6 billion in retail sales for 2018.
“We expect the FDA to finalize its policy by mid-February, which gives e-cig manufactures and retailers time to adjust marketing and sales practices around flavored e-cig products,” Herzog said.
In the traditional cigarette category, Herzog said industry volume declined by 8 percent despite recent price increases by Philip Morris USA, Reynolds and ITG Brands LLC.
Philip Morris was first at 55.1 percent market share, of which 48.1 percent is the top-selling Marlboro.
Reynolds remained at 33.9 percent market share, led by 13 percent from Newport, 8.9 percent Camel, 6.6 percent Pall Mall and 3.4 percent Natural American Spirit.
ITG was at 7.3 percent, representing 2.1 percent from Winston and 1.6 percent Kool and 1.5 percent Maverick.
The latest Nielsen data for traditional cigarettes and e-cigs is another sign that smokers are switching to “viable substitute for cigarettes (as they) becomes available,” said David Sweanor, an adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa and the author of several e-cigarette and health studies.
“It is consistent with the history of the substitution of lower-risk products and services for higher-risk ones.
“It is what we have seen in Japan, as well as Sweden, Norway, the U.K, South Korea, Iceland, etc. on tobacco/nicotine,” Sweanor said. “All of which raises the question of whether the FDA may be about to kill a trend away from deadly product.”