WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- VUSE, the digital vapor cigarette, will enter two new markets in approximately six weeks on its way to national expansion.
After finding success in Colorado and Utah, VUSE will hit the backbars in Wisconsin and Indiana stores by mid-June, according to Daniel Delen, president and CEO of Reynolds American Inc. (RAI). RAI is the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. (RJRV), maker of VUSE.
The Winston-Salem-based company plans to immediately follow that move by introducing the digital vapor cigarette to 15,000 additional retail outlets, the chief executive said during RAI's first-quarter conference call Wednesday morning.
"By the end of June, VUSE will effectively be available in every state," Delen said, adding that he is confident the product will roll out to more stores a few weeks after that target date.
These steps toward a national footprint come one year after RAI and RJRV held a New York City launch party for VUSE. The digital vapor cigarette arrived in Colorado, its first market, in July and quickly became a market leader, according to company executives.
VUSE entered Utah in February with similar results, Delen reported, calling VUSE a "tangible example of our company's leadership and innovation."
The company has also seen significant sales of replacement cartridges in Utah, an indication of trial and adoption. In addition, the size of the total electronic cigarette category grew in Utah with the introduction of VUSE -- once again mirroring the results in Colorado, he noted.
The national rollout of VUSE comes as more advanced vapor products begin to catch on with consumers, possibly posing a threat to electronic cigarettes.
"We are confident in our technology; that it is the next-generation technology that consumers are looking for," Delen said, adding that its competitors are working on their next-generation technology now.
RAI's first-quarter earnings call was Delen's last as president and CEO of RAI. He will retire effective May 1. He has worked in the tobacco industry for 25 years, the past seven at RAI. He explained that retiring now is the right decision for him and his family.
Last week, the company's board of directors elected Susan Cameron to fill his roles, as CSNews Online previously reported. Cameron served as RAI president and CEO from 2004 to 2011. She also served on the board during those seven years, returning to the panel in December.
"Susan is as committed to this company and its success as I am," Delen said.