Portrait of young woman vape an electronic cigarette outdoor

Vaping still feels like such a new and novel thing to so many people that it’s sometimes difficult to believe electronic cigarettes have been available to purchase for over 15 years now. The vaping industry is evolving at such a rapid pace, in fact, that you actually missed several distinct product generations if you’ve only been a vaper for a couple of years.

There’s no doubt that the best time to be a vaper is right now. The products are so much better than they used to be that there’s simply no comparison. Sometimes, though, the best way to know where an industry is going is by understanding where it has been – and to help you do that, this article will discuss the most important ways in which the vaping industry has changed over its first several years. Let’s explore the evolution of vaping.

The Vaping Industry Has Become More Mature

One of the most important changes that has taken place in the vaping industry is a transformation of the way in which the industry presents and markets its products. This change has happened partly due to increased regulatory scrutiny and partly as a natural side effect of vaping becoming more of a mainstream activity instead of a counterculture pursuit as it was in the beginning.

When vaping really started to become popular in the mid-2010s, some companies went a bit too far in trying to market e-cigarettes as lifestyle products. They hired attractive young models for photo shoots and paid social media influencers to spread the word. E-liquid companies, meanwhile, began to create and market vape juices that tasted like popular candies and cereals and even went so far as to mimic the packaging of those products. Those marketing techniques brought unwanted attention to the industry and had the unintended side effect of deterring smokers who would have otherwise been extremely interested in switching from smoking to vaping.

More recently, the vaping industry has learned from its mistakes and now markets products in a much more tasteful and understated way. Vaping companies have learned that vaping really sells itself on its own merits. It’s less risky than smoking and doesn’t make you smell bad. It’s even significantly cheaper than smoking to boot. Making smokers aware of those benefits is really all that’s necessary to make smokers want to buy e-cigarettes.

Vaping Hardware Preferences Have Changed

The hardware is the biggest aspect of the vaping industry that has changed over the last several years. Today’s popular vaping devices such as the Geek Bar bear almost no resemblance to the e-cigarettes that people used a decade ago. The basic principle remains the same. Just like the e-cigarettes of old, a modern vaping device still uses a heating element to vaporize a nicotine-infused liquid that’s inhaled by the user. The appearance of the hardware, however, has been completely transformed.

First-generation e-cigarettes closely resembled tobacco cigarettes, and the similarity was born out of necessity. These days, virtually every smoker in the developed world is aware that vaping exists. There was a time, though, when the idea of vaping was completely unfamiliar to virtually all smokers. If you were a smoker and saw a modern vaping device like a box mod on the shelf at your local convenience store – and you had no idea what vaping was – you wouldn’t know that the device had something to do with smoking and probably wouldn’t even be interested enough to ask about it.

During the early days of vaping, it was necessary for the products to provide a visual cue suggesting a relation to smoking. People who saw the first e-cigarettes understood immediately that they were electronic smoking devices and wanted to learn more. The physical resemblance helped e-cigarette makers earn their first customers and played a major role in the early success of the industry. Now that vaping devices no longer need to look like tobacco cigarettes, they’ve become larger. The increased size enables today’s devices to last longer and to produce bigger and more satisfying vapor clouds.

E-Liquid Flavor Development Has Become More Advanced

Vaping has improved by leaps and bounds in terms of flavor quality over the years, with the best e-liquid companies turning it into something that rivals a high-end culinary experience. The first e-liquid companies tended to focus on tobacco and menthol flavors, perhaps because they assumed smokers would prefer flavors reminiscent of cigarettes. The few non-cigarette flavors that were available tended to have just one note, such as cherry or vanilla.

As the vaping industry evolved, it became obvious fairly quickly that tobacco flavors actually aren’t what most vapers prefer. It’s far more common, in fact, for vapers to gravitate toward fruit, candy and dessert flavors. As more e-liquid companies entered the industry, non-tobacco flavors came to represent a much larger portion of the market. During the mid-2010s, some of the most popular e-liquid flavor profiles included cereal, custard and candy flavors. E-liquid companies learned how to replicate the flavors of the world’s most popular snack and dessert foods, and they also learned that they could make those flavor profiles taste even truer to life by using sucralose as a sweetener. By the end of the 2010s, sweetened e-liquids represented the vast majority of the vaping industry.

In the 2020s, e-liquid companies have increasingly moved away from single-note flavors in favor of more complex blends. Today, it’s no longer sufficient for a vape juice to capture the flavor of something like custard on its own – regardless of how accurate the flavor might be. Instead, members of the vaping community are looking for e-liquids with much more intricate flavor profiles. Instead of a plain custard e-liquid, for instance, a popular vape juice today might capture the flavor of a custard tart with a graham cracker base, a strawberry drizzle and a dollop of whipped cream. Instead of creating plain menthol e-liquids, today’s vape juice makers use menthol to add a layer of coolness to their flavors. The added flavor complexity makes today’s e-cigarettes infinitely more enjoyable than tobacco cigarettes, and that’s encouraging smokers to quit at an increasingly rapid pace.