The market-share gap continues to shrink between top-selling electronic cigarette Juul and No. 2 Vuse, according to the latest Nielsen analysis of convenience-store data.
The report covers the four-week period ending Sept. 11.
Nielsen determined Vuse had a 33% market share, up from 32.3% in the previous report.
Meanwhile, Juul was at 40.8%, down from 40.9% in the previous report.
NJoy was at 3.3%, down from 3.5%, while Fontem Ventures’ blu eCigs was at 2.4%, down from 2.5%.
Overall, sales of electronic cigarettes were up 2% for the latest four-week period, compared with up 5.2% the previous report.
Overall e-cigarette sales-volume growth have been on the decline since Nielsen’s Aug. 10, 2019, report, when it was up 60.2% year over year.
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Electronic-cigarette sales overall have slumped since February 2020, when the Food and Drug Administration implemented its latest round of heightened regulations on the products, including limiting closed-pod flavors to menthol and tobacco.
Those restrictions foremost required manufacturers of cartridge-based e-cigarettes, such as Juul Labs Inc., Reynolds Vapor, NJoy and Fontem, to stop making, distributing and selling “unauthorized flavorings” in February 2021, or risk enforcement actions.
The FDA raised the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 in December 2019.
Top-selling Juul’s four-week dollar sales have dropped from a 50.2% increase in the Aug. 10, 2019, report to a 13.3% drop in the latest report.
By comparison, Reynolds’ Vuse was up 59.8% in the latest report, while No. 3 NJoy was down 18.2% and No. 4 blu eCigs down 21.4%.
The FDA did not meet a Sept. 9 federal court-ordered deadline for deciding which premarket tobacco market applications to grant for electronic cigarettes.
E-cigarette manufacturers had to submit by Sept. 9, 2020, their premarket tobacco market applications (PMTA) in order to stay in the marketplace for at least another 12 months.
A statement posted on the FDA’s website Sept. 9 said “while our review of premarket applications is ongoing, we remain vigilant in overseeing the market and continue to prioritize the use of our enforcement resources to curb the unlawful marketing of tobacco products.”
The FDA said it “will continue to make enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis according to our enforcement priorities and individual circumstances, recognizing that we are unable, as a practical matter, to take enforcement action against every illegally marketed tobacco product, and that we need to make the best use of agency resources.”
Traditional cigarette manufacturers are benefiting from anti-tobacco advocates’ efforts targeting electronic cigarettes, particularly use by those under age 21, said David Sweanor, an adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa and the author of several e-cigarette and health studies.
The recent increase of more workers returning to the office continued to keep traditional cigarettes on a significant year-over-year decline.
Industry analysts said the 8.8% volume decline for traditional cigarettes reflects the impact on the industry of the COVID-19 pandemic and the later economic reopening.
A key 2020 industry development was smokers’ increasing their purchases in the early months of the pandemic in response to statewide stay-at-home orders, including in North Carolina.
This year has seen a return to more typical shopping conditions.
Tobacco manufacturers have been able to offset some of the recent volume declines through a series of per-pack list-price increases in recent months.
The list price is what wholesalers pay manufacturers for their traditional cigarette products. The increase typically is passed on to customers at retail.
Philip Morris USA traditional cigarette volumes were down 3.9% year over year, while Reynolds had an overall 3% decrease and ITG Brands LLC was down 2.9%.
As of Sept. 11, Philip Morris’ top market share was at 52.1%.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was at 34.8%, including No. 2 Newport at 14.2%, No. 3 Camel at 8.5%, No. 4 Pall Mall at 5.4% and No. 5 Natural American Spirit at 4%.
ITG was at 7.4%, although ITG continues to claim its market share is closer to 10%.