“Sometimes this industry feels like the perfume and pop-record business; there’s a lot of fads, but the good ideas will last forever”
The UK didn’t become a world leader in the e-cigarette market by accident. Every day, vapers, businesses and advocates are wowed by the quality and variety that our recent boom has brought us.
Many companies have found their niche building a solid brand around their e-liquid by ensuring consistency between name, taste and mood, resulting in products that trigger emotional responses which keep customers coming back for more. Based in Manchester, the confident, outgoing ZAP! have made it their mission to master this. According to their website:
“To empower is our goal, and our vision is for everyone who vapes ZAP! Juice to feel that jolt, to know that you can be the best version of yourself, to know that you can go into the world with confidence.”
As their name suggests, ZAP! stormed on to the e-liquid scene by specialising in, “exciting new twists on fruity flavours.” ZAP! boast an inventory crafted by elite mixologists, with pharmaceutical PG, VG, flavourings and nicotine sourced globally from quality suppliers and mixed in an ISO-grade clean room.
How did this come about?
When life gives you lychees, make a beloved, bestselling e-liquid.
Managing Director Hing Wong is a man of many talents, all of which have converged into the creation of ZAP! Juice. Hing’s professional background is in theoretical physics and natural sciences. His talents for chemistry would later come into play when ZAP!’s first juices were being mixed. The company’s reputation for flavour was established as soon as its products hit the market and under his guidance, it can stay this way.
“My first job was writing PlayStation games,” says Hing, “I worked as an IT contractor until the recession in 2007. A lot of companies weren’t hiring contractors anymore and I moved on.”
Hing’s wide skillset kept him in employment running several pubs. He encountered his first e-cigarette several years later in Wigan, with the assurance that this would be the next big thing and he needed to get in on it. Hing was convinced, and by 2012, the phenomenon that would become ZAP! Juice was born, beginning as a single retail vape shop. Happy as he was to be involved in the vape trade, it took a while to get things into gear.
“It was a 200 square foot shop holding three cabinets and only ten available flavours. I had thirty products, maximum, in there.”
In 2013, Hing expanded into wholesaling upon learning that Chinese e-liquid manufacturer Dekang was red hot. “Our first order was 1,000 bottles.”
Then comes that familiar story, when an entrepreneurially-minded person gets a taste of the vape industry and begins to wonder “what if?” – envisioning their own liquids and other products, wondering how far they can take things.
“By 2015, we started to seriously consider making our own liquids.”
Hing’s scientific knowledge gave him a slight edge, and he soon noticed how he could gain an edge on the flavour front.
“Most companies were using standard food flavourings for their liquids,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t always translate to an e-liquid, especially when vapourised at such a high temperature. There’s a disconnect between the liquids and the foods/fruits/cocktails et cetera, that inspire them.”
The team sampled all the flavours being sold by industry leaders, getting to know everything as they found a way to stand out. The process of mixing came from extensive research looking at formulas at a molecular level. By lucky chance, he happened across an e-liquid formula which formed one of ZAP’s finest products.
“We started with 25 litres of lychee concentrate and didn’t even know what to do with it, so we added it to the e-liquid formula. We didn’t even know what we were mixing at first, but it turned out brilliantly!”
The team found similar success with a cola flavour. Every liquid company worth their salt relies on feedback, and ZAP’s cola and lychee liquids received rave reviews.
Though flavour specialists, the company has also carved out a respectable place in the market for their branding and product presentation. They won Best Branding at Vape Jam 2017. Their trade show presence is marked by a distinctly cost-effective and environmentally-friendly wood palate setup, eschewing the traditional metal and plastic shell scheme. ZAP! also turned heads with an innovative response to the TPD which vastly improved the standard presentation of e-liquids. Hing wondered how they could avoid the confinement of the typical 10ml bottle/sticker/box packaging and make their product look more upmarket, choosing to sell bottles in a light and easily-stored bag. This extended to the art style:
“A lot of companies had urban or graffiti-inspired art with complex patterns. We wanted something that would be visible on vape shop shelves and more identifiable to browsing mobile users.”
For all they have going, there’s a strong feeling of emerging promise with ZAP! – they’re a company who have earned their reputation but have plenty left. Hing guarantees big, new things for 2018, and doesn’t dare spoil it yet.
“The product has to be more than a commodity. Sometimes this industry feels like the perfume and pop-record business; there’s a lot of fads, but the good ideas will last forever.”
This article was published in Issue 17 of Vapouround Magazine and was written by Leo Forfar.