Innovators in a relatively new market, Croatian family-firm, Elda, have fired up the e-cigarette sector.
Despite being voted the leading manufacturer of e-cigarettes in Europe in recent times, the Croatian firm Elda is hardly one to rest on its laurels. Company President, Dario Marenic, reminded his competitors of just how seriously they should take him when he oversaw the opening of Elda’s new £2.81 million testing lab for e-liquid, electronic cigarettes and cannabis in Nova Gradiska, the country’s youngest city. At the time he was already exporting to 80 countries around the world.
It’s been a time of continual progression for this family-run firm. In fact, things don’t look like slowing down any time soon either, as you can read here in this exclusive interview.
What was the initial response to the launch of your e-cigarettes in Europe?
“As a result of promotional activities, our e-cigarettes have been received extremely well throughout Europe and beyond.
People like electronic cigarettes because while they’re not as harmful as smoking traditional cigarettes, they do still receive a nicotine hit. There was also the variety of flavours available such as menthol or fruit. I remember being very excited about them when a Chinese innovator I’d been speaking to at an expo conference in Las Vegas ten years ago introduced me to the electronic cigarette. At the time, Elda’s main business was general electronics, a sector we had been involved in since the business began 36 years ago.”
Were you surprised at how popular the product became?
“Not really. People have been seeking a viable alternative to traditional cigarettes for some time, so when e-cigarettes did appear, they took off big time.
There is a vast amount of research around today which highlights the health benefits of e-cigarettes in comparison to ordinary tobacco cigarettes. As vaping is such a young market, statistics demonstrating how it fares against traditional cigarettes are not readily available, but from the amount of sales which Elda alone is making, we would say that it’s definitely catching up.
An important factor is that some doctors recommend that patients should consider swapping to e-cigarettes as they are a healthier alternative to traditional products.”
What’s your most popular brand?
“As time has progressed, customers have become more demanding. They’re looking for more sophisticated flavours and ones which are a little different to the norm. This prompted us to introduce our Premium line – a carefully selected choice of fruity and creamy flavours. The packaging for these is particularly striking, being created in the form of candies, cakes and a traditional carton of milk. After a year on the market it’s still our best-selling line.
Our research has also produced some interesting results. We found that European customers preferred a rich tobacco taste such as our Magic Stardust or Cowboy Blend, while American customers had more of a penchant for sweet and fruity flavours, such as Juicy, Milkshake or Pinky Lemonade.”
Why go into the testing side with your new laboratory?
“New TPD2 regulations were introduced last year stating that all e-liquids sold for the European market had to be analysed, contain no harmful elements and undergo a registration process. It seemed crazy to pay another laboratory company to do this when we could install top quality analysing machines in our own lab instead.
Innovation is my passion and, as a result, Elda now has the latest testing technology on the market, again putting us at the forefront of the industry.”
What are people unaware of with regard to e-cigarettes?
“People are always surprised to hear that the first prototype of the electronic cigarette was actually patented back in 1963. However, it wasn’t until 40 years later that the modern version was created. This was by the Chinese pharmacist I mentioned earlier, who was a heavy smoker.”
Do most people in Elda use e-cigarettes?
“Yes, we all use electronic cigarettes! Everyone gets involved when we’re attempting to create new flavours. We’re all excited about them and can’t wait to try them out.”
In which European country are e-cigarettes most popular?
“Currently Elda’s biggest business partners come from the UK, Germany, The Netherlands and France. Having said that, the number of vapors in Belgium and Denmark has increased considerably in recent years.”
Why do you think Elda has become such a strong force within the industry? Is it because you were an early player in the market or because your growth strategy involved significant innovation which enabled you to remain at the front? Or is it a combination of both of these factors?
“Both, for sure. The fact we began manufacturing e-liquids 10 years ago was definitely a big plus point for us. Neither the demands of the market nor the user were as demanding at that time.
We have seen year on year improvements to the extent we are now Europe’s leading manufacturer of e-liquids. The market is now so competitive that it would be very difficult for someone new to break through.
Having said that, innovations are always the key to success. Our business partners and customers are continually searching for top quality products and services and will go to whoever can provide these. This is something the Elda community are continually striving to do.
Personally, I always like to be one step ahead of my competitors. This means thinking about the next best thing while, at the same time, launching what I hope will be a game-changer.”
What does the future look like for Elda and the world of e-cigarettes?
The future for the world of e-cigarettes lies in improved flavours and devices. At Elda we currently offer more than 500 different flavours but more are in the pipeline. We are planning to invest in new technology and production facilities and constantly attempting to predict market developments so that we can come up with high quality solutions which our customers will love.”
Elda like to remain ahead of the game not only for their products, but also with their production techniques, which have been rewarded with the European AAA Excellence accreditation. This is due to the fact their liquids are eco-friendly, GMO-free and are not tested on animals. Meanwhile, recycled plastic is used for packaging. Elda were also the first company to put child safety caps on bottles of e-liquid as well as offering customers refillable bottles.
We’re looking forward to seeing the next innovative idea the company plans to light up the e-cigarette community with.
To find out more about the company and its products, visit www.elda.hr