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Chase it, baby

Vaping competitions are growing larger every year. Where once they were just a novelty, they are big business now. All around the world, this fun and mystifying sport is wowing audiences.

Vaping is one of the most interesting, creative and impactful of innovations to hit the retail market. If you’re not a vaper, you may find that statement sounds far fetched, but I assure you, it is true. While many non-vapers, smoking is smoking, regardless of the actual platform. This is not so when it comes to vaping. Vaping as a profound innovator will not be denied.

When we take into consideration all of the advancements which have been made in other consumer sectors, such as our personal vehicles are now faster, more efficient, and more comfortable than ever before. We begin to see that this vaping thing is every bit as involved and beneficial to the user. With cars, the amount of standard equipment offered, even in economy-class, is mind-boggling when compared to what it was ten years ago. Vaping is very similar, the equipment is changing, improving and evolving daily.

You can bring up the mobile phone and how it is easily the most conspicuous consumer innovation, and later, the smart phone. But still, the core concept of portable telephones was already becoming well established in the 1980s. What happens most often with advancements in retail is that the products become smaller, more user-friendly, but rarely do the change the game itself.

Whereas, vaping, on the other hand, is a total game-changer, threatening not only an institution that has been around for centuries, but also forcing a debate on how we view personal liberties. Plus, vaping looks radically different from the traditional platform of cigarettes. Atomizers, wattage, e-juices, even vaping terms are completely alien to those that are only familiar with the tobacco jargon.

For example, one of those extravagantly unique elements found only in vaping is “cloud chasing.” There are competitions for this new sport and they are held nationwide. They help celebrate the vaping culture and the unique forms of expression native to the practice. Even more impressive, vaping has made significant inroads globally. Thus, cloud chasing events can be found anywhere from Annapolis to Zacatecas.

Money, money

As you would expect, the core of these vaping competitions is cloud production. Vapers come armed to the event with all types of kitted-out pieces. You can often spot them, setting up, their gear ensconced within jet black suitcases that seem more appropriate for carrying nuclear launch codes. When it’s their turn to perform or compete, if you will, vapers inhale from their e-devices, and exhale an impressive plume of smoke. It is a remarkable scene, and would seem impossible if not for the sheer fact that it is real, very much so.

One the other side, are the cloud chasing judges. Under their watchful gaze, vapers set records for how far a vaper managed to push their clouds. This is quite often determined by a massive ruler hung against a wall. I personally know of several mid-tier vaping competitors who can emit clouds that range in the four to five feet area. There are elite vapers, who can hit distances of six feet and beyond. So, they’re pushing clouds which are longer than the height of a person!

But we cannot speak of competitions without mentioning the noise you experience from the cloud gazers. These are the eager fans hoarding into vape shops, like Medusa Juice, which generally are the most common hosts of cloud chasing competitions.

Some of the cloud gazers that you’ll find in the crowd are novice vapers looking for new ideas and inspiration to improve their own skills and abilities. But the crowd is made up from people from all walks of life, and differences nearly as vast as the kits used by the people doing the cloud chasing.

It might be quite easy to view these competitions as mere hobbyist events, the truth is far more explosive. In reality, cloud chasing has become an actual “thing”. The Wall Street Journal now calls it an extreme sport. Like any other extreme sport, there is a rabid fan base, marketable personalities, and the most important element for many, money!

Vapor Cloud Chasing

In America, the Internal Revenue Service sets the distinction between a business and a hobby based on the profit incentive. Which makes sense, when you think about it, right? Basically, it boils down to if the entity in question is performing activities in the pursuit of the almighty dollar, or are they doing it merely as a pastime. By those guidelines, the entity would still have to prove that they made a profit at one point in their existence, and that they’re continuing to do so.

Therefore, according to the IRS’ own definition, cloud chasing is a business. Fair enough, and believe me, business is very, very good. During the late 2000s, vaping was still pretty much considered a novelty. And as such, total revenue from the industry only measured in the millions. Today, however, those figures are well into the billions globally. At this rate, total vaping revenue could hit $10 billion by 2020. Think about that for a second! We here at Medusa Juice have been involved since the beginning and we plan on being here for the duration.

The growth and popularity of vaporizers is especially remarkable in both the United States and United Kingdom. Technically speaking, the first vaporizers hit the retail markets in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The vaporizer industry would be hardly recognizable back then for us modern enthusiasts. Marketing and products were based on the novelty more than the technology or on the end-user experience. Because of this, many of the early vaping models left a poor impression on would be vapers. Which is too bad, but luckily, it still caught on.

2013 was really the first year that vaping really hit a nerve in the consumer marketplace. Prior to that, there were only a handful of dedicated vape shops, but Medusa Juice was here. Fast forward two years, and there were more than 8,500 vaping retailers, doing business to the tune of $1.2 billion.

Only a fool would ignore. Not only that, vapers have proved that they are a loyal bunch. They constantly request upgrades, new e-juices, and different mods to keep up with the latest trends. The fact that so many are so vocal and involved in helping to make the industry better is why this retail industry offers tremendous results for their customers. The sheer marketing potential alone is enough to justify the costs associated with hosting one of the cloud chasing competitions.

From what we here at Medusa Juice can tell, this growth trend is unlikely to end any time soon. Companies like ourselves recognize a profitable venture when they see one, and many have stepped up in droves to sponsor cloud chasing competitors, particularly those that command street cred and a vast social media presence. Which is the way of the day. While cloud chasing is still in a relatively infant stage, we are seeing vaping companies benefit tremendously from the various sponsorship deals.

Most of that is due mostly to the presence of social media. Who isn’t using it these days? Traditional media is becoming an antiquated platform, therefore, not unusual to see YouTube personalities command more subscribers than broadcast television channels. When social media videos go viral, the amount of global viewership would put any top-tier television show to shame. And it happens so fast it can take your breath away. The best part about it all is that the costs of social media are virtually nonexistent compared to Television ads, etc.

Just think about it…with the average winnings for a vaping competition ranging from £250 to the £2,000 range, it’s not enough for contestants to make a serious living, and by logical extension, it’s not that much of an upfront charge for potential sponsors. However, the traffic and attention which can be generated through social media, as well as organically, can be enormous. This is why vaping companies are more than happy to sponsor cloud chasers and competition events. I mean, who doesn’t like money?

So, for these vaping shopkeepers, hosting these cloud chasing competitions is a no-brainer. Yes, the upfront costs of any event can be pricey, but much of the overhead is already written off. As an example, whether or not shopkeepers organize a cloud chasing event, they would still have to pay the monthly lease for their business property. And not for nothing, these competitions attract some of the best consumers you can find in the retail industry.

I’ve touched on the phenomenal loyalty of vapers, but this is not just strictly limited to brand identity. Vaping is truly an art form, a personal expression which lends itself to a shared platform like cloud chasing, or cloud gazing. Therefore, most serious vapers will consider any product that enhances their abilities or pursuits. This means that shopkeepers have a hostage audience as cloud chasing essentially translates into a real-time product showpiece.

What I find interesting too is that competitors aren’t the only ones who receive marketing exposure. Cloud gazers are often a very impressionable group of consumers. Once they see the outrageous performance of top competitors, they naturally gravitate towards whatever vaporizers which were used. This then translates into on-the-spot sales. Therefore, if vaping retailers are shrewd, they will align product promotions with the e-devices that are deployed by the top cloud chasers.

You may find that even the newcomers and the unfamiliar with the vaping sport enjoy watching it. Many want to take part, even those who don’t vape yet. There is something so primal and delicious about watching those fragrant plumes emitted more than six feet in horizontal distance, combined with three feet of maximum vertical spread. If you want to talk science, it is scientifically impossible to get that kind of “coverage” with traditional cigarettes.

Then too is the aspect that vaping can be a substantially healthier platform than cigarettes. The latter contains nicotine, which is a harmful and addictive chemical. Nicotine has always been a part of smoking, whereas vaporizers, on the other hand, can be used without nicotine and in any flavors of the vaper’s choosing. This means great clouds, no nicotine and huge fun without worry.

Although it is a competition, cloud chasing is a considered to be a cooperative competition. By that, I mean that the point isn’t to defeat or belittle the opponent, like most other sporting events. Instead, as most vapers will tell you, its that the aim of the competition is pursuit of perfection. Which is an unattainable goal, but still continually pushes vapers and vaporizer manufacturers to the limit. Which may help explain why there are vapers who compete which have formed partnerships.

Saddle up, Partner

Because, contrary to common misconceptions, the vaping industry isn’t isolated, it continually evolves For instance, earlier this decade, cloud chasing competitions began seeking mutually beneficial partnerships with non-vaping related companies.

One of the most notorious partnerships is Hot Import Nights, who are known for their smoking rides, and even more gorgeous models. Because vapers naturally enjoy tinkering, Hot Import Nights is the most ingenious partnership ever cultivated in the vaping industry. Whether it’s the manner in which they coil their wires, or the materials used in their atomizers, most vapers are rarely satisfied with the status quo. Even those who like the kits they have still will often succumb to temptation. Vaping, unlike cigarettes, offers hundreds of options for vaporizers, each one noticeably affecting the taste or experience of chasing vape. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time before their curiosity gets the best of any vaper.

If you don’t know it already, you will find out that the exact same sentiment rings true for fans of imported hot rods. Physical modifications such as rear wings, or internal mods such as cold air intakes are part and parcel of the import culture. In fact you rarely see one of these hotrods without someone tuning up something on them.

To these enthusiasts, it’s not just about the car itself. You can always find someone to point out that a much more expensive vehicle can be purchased for the amount of money that import fanatics pour into their rides. But that’s the point. If they did that, they would have a car that can be bought anywhere at any time. It’s this standardization of a beloved culture that these import fans are rebelling against.

This concept is what is shared between drivers and vapers. It is a passion. In fact, one of the underlying ideologies in vaping competitions is that it’s really an anti-tobacco campaign. Some of the best or well-known cloud chasers were former smokers, addicted to nicotine and the harmful, economically painful activities associated with cigarettes. Now, both vapers and import drivers, find their respective movements represent the taking back control from a sanitized and dangerous big corporation conglomerate.

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