How do you take your vapor?

Vapor4Life approached Kaleidoscope to develop brand positioning and a packaging strategy for its WOW Vapor brand to offer a healthier yet pleasurable and satisfying alternative to big tobacco. Vaping is a new category, populated with well-known manufacturers and start-ups all competing for dominance. Our goal was to elevate the user experience by creating iconic brand packaging that could be repurposed after point of purchase. The package needed to address unmet user needs: assisting the end user in organizing and transportation of the battery, cartomizer and liquids. Users also wanted something that could be reconfigured to carry and store different items, considered cleanliness concerns, and drove compliance for recharging.

Taking vapor out of the Viper Room

Since vaporizing is so new, research was needed to define consumer perception. Kaleidoscope sent teams out to vapor shops and clubs in the Chicago area. What we found was a “Wild West” of devices, flavors, e-cigs, vapor clubs and a host of perceptions around “what are you smoking??” Vapor shops, for instance, offer devices and flavors that customers can mix. The products are flavored liquids. Creating vapor requires a cartomizer and battery, flavor liquids as well as the tips you smoke from. There is a perception of “sketchiness” about smoking in dark clubs. But if you are seen using a vapor device on the street, people might think you’re doing something illegal.  On the opposite end of the scale is the healthier cigarette and various brands that are using borrowed memory structure from the tobacco category and applying to the emerging vapor technology.  WOW did not want to associate itself with either extreme culture. Instead, it wanted to position itself as a completely new satisfying and pleasurable experience with the benefits of zero nicotine, pure flavor and sensorial satisfaction.

In researching the consumer journey, we found a lot of inconsistencies. C-stores and groceries carry a limited selection. Gas stations have the largest offering but the products mostly reflect a borrowed memory structure from the tobacco category. Vapor shops offer an educational and experimental purchase experience, but they can feel sketchy and directed more toward the counter culture when compared to mainstream consumers. A key insight was this: consumers who use vapor products often feel that they have to do so at night. In fact, when we painted a picture of how competitors talk about their brands, we discovered a whitespace around daytime (versus nighttime party scene.) To create compelling differentiation, we had to design a product that could live in the light of day and express the energy of the city at daybreak.