CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It’s a little black or white back, equipped with a small blue light, and pops up in a lot of places. From a music video by R&B artist Tyrese, to a paparazzi shot of Lindsey Lohan, to the average Joe in your local bar.
The electronic cigarette, BluCigs has made quite a name for itself in the past two or so years.
This Charlotte-based company is located in a nondescript warehouse, and started with just a $50, 000 investment. This year, BluCigs raked in more than $30 million in sales.
E-cigarettes aren’t anything new. The product has been around for almost 10 years. But what sets BluCigs apart isn’t just the blue light-up tip, and slick marketing. It’s their foray into the social media world.
“What we found is even more so with e-cigs [than traditional cigarettes], smokers are very proud of their product and brand. They want a community, which is why we created the social pack. It identifies who else is near you. At work, at the nightclub, even locates Blu retailers,” says company president Jason Healy.
Turn on the pack’s Wi-Fi option, and when a pack is near another pack, the Blu logo will flash and the pack will vibrate, indicating someone nearby. Next year, the company plans to integrate an entire profile, so when the pack is plugged into a home computer, it’ll display information about all the users it’s come in contact with.
“We want to keep growing it so the next stage, it’ll talk to your phone! Send information through your phone. We’ll keep growing as technology expands,”says Healey.
Larken Egleston, a social media consultant and liquor brand ambassador spends a good amount of time in local bars and restaurants, and thinks BluCigs just may be on to something.
“It’s a really neat concept. Execution though, it’ll be interesting to see how effective. People are so obsessed with social media, we’re not to the point of overkill yet,” says Egleston.
Alfonso Giacomucci, an employee at Whiskey Warehouse in Plaza Midwood says he sees a 5 to 7 percent increase in BluCig sales each month.
“As the weather gets colder, more people don’t like to go outside and smoke. They like BluCigs so they can smoke inside,” smiles Giacomucci.
There of course is the elephant in the room -- is the product safe, or at least safer than traditional cigarettes or other e-cigs?
Dr. Carmine Dalto, a pulmonary and respiratory physician at Presbyterian Hospital in Matthews says there simple aren’t enough studies on electronic cigarettes to determine safety. However, he believes, since nicotine is similar to caffeine in it’s psychological addiction, he’s in support of using the product to help existing smokers kick the habit.
“There is some criticism, some praise, but again, the main thing, is if it’ll help you stop smoking, and it’s used successfully, then great!”
As for BluCigs, the company plans to bring in $65 million in sales next year, and go international.