“To say things have been busy at Cuttwood would be a gross understatement,”
said Jared Unger, Cuttwood’s Founder and Sole Owner.
In the past year, the iconic California e-liquid company developed and released five new flavors, introduced two new bottle sizes, developed country-specific packaging to be compliant with European regulations, and began selling its premium e-liquid in sealed cartridges compatible only with some of the most aesthetically pleasing, if not most technologically advanced, closed-system vaporizers introduced to date.
Accomplishing all of the above was a remarkable feat, given that the Cuttwood employees that undertook these endeavors were the same employees that had the responsibility of managing Cuttwood’s existing business. This included not only dealing with the daily logistics of fulfilling orders globally from its Orange County headquarters, but also finding the time to personally engage with consumers at domestic and international trade shows, and at other events including the Red Bull Global Rallycross race series (Cuttwood has primary sponsorship of a racecar in the series which is televised nationwide on NBC and NBCSN).
After much anticipation, in May of 2016 Cuttwood added Mr. Fritter to its flavor lineup, which already included well-known consumer favorites: Unicorn Milk, Boss Reserve, Sugar Drizzle, Mega Melons and Bird Brains.
Mr. Fritter was the second of three flavors comprising Cuttwood’s “Gold Series” e-liquid (Bird Brains was the inaugural flavor in the series). As the name suggests, Mr. Fritter is an apple fritter style flavor, which Cuttwood describes as “the indulgence of a warm fritter featuring the perfect balance of apple and cinnamon, infused with our own special blend of other flavors.”
Following up on the success of Mr. Fritter, Cuttwood introduced the third Gold Series flavor, Tobacco Trail, in July of 2016. Tobacco Trail was developed to cater to consumers interested in tobacco flavored e-liquid, however, Tobacco Trail has attracted a broader fan base than Cuttwood anticipated.
As Jared Unger explained, “The cool thing about Tobacco Trail is that the flavor seems to be a hit with people specifically looking for tobacco-flavored vape as well as people just interested in vaping something unique. We’ve seen comments from people who don’t normally like tobacco-flavored juice say things like, ‘Don’t let the name fool you, this is a great vape’ or ‘Didn’t think I would like a tobacco-flavored juice, but this is awesome.’”
Immediately following the Tobacco Trail launch, but before the August 8, 2016 FDA deadline (any company seeking to release new e-liquid products after this date would be required to first undergo a lengthy FDA review/approval process prior to placing such products on the market), Cuttwood introduced its “Reimagined Series” which consists of three flavors: Livid Lime, Manic Mint and Outrage Orange, with each imparting the flavors described in their names, but “with a twist as only Cuttwood could reimagine”.
Cuttwood is able to offer the Reimagined Series at a lower price point since the flavors are less complex than Cuttwood’s other flavors, which Cuttwood believes to be attractive to the more price-sensitive consumer. Adding to the attractiveness of the series is a clever and eye-catching inversion of Cuttwood’s bottle labels, with the series sporting white labels with dark lettering as opposed to Cuttwood’s iconic black labels.
Contemporaneously with the introduction of Tobacco Trail and the Reimagined Series, Cuttwood introduced a 60 mL bottle size to its existing glass bottle line up of 16.5 mL, 30 mL and 120 mL size bottles, for all 10 of its flavors. Cuttwood introduced 60 mL bottles in response to a growing number of consumers looking for greater value by buying larger bottle sizes, but not necessarily ready to invest in a 120 mL size bottle.
EXPANSION INTO CLOSED-SYSTEM VAPORIZERS
Prior to the August 8, 2016 FDA deadline, Cuttwood also began offering its e-liquid in pre-filled sealed cartridges compatible with certain “closed-system” personal vaporizers developed by well-known hardware manufacturers including Vape Forward (Cync), Von Erl (My.Von Erl.) and others. Cuttwood believes that the pleasing design, performance and ease of use of these closed-system devices, coupled with Cuttwood’s premium flavors, provide smokers and vapers with a hassle-free and highly satisfying vaping experience at a reasonable price.
As Unger explained, “It’s amazing how fast the vaping industry has evolved and how mods have become more powerful, complex, and frankly, more expensive. While all of this has been great for experienced vapers, I’ve always feared that we were leaving more and more potential vapers (aka smokers) behind as the industry evolves, people that want to try vaping but may be too intimidated by the complexity of the hardware and/or can’t or are unwilling to put up the money for a mod, accessories and a bottle of juice on something they are uncertain they will enjoy. Using these devices with cartridges pre-filled with Cuttwood juice takes all of those concerns off the table.”
EUROPEAN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Introducing new products in the United States in advance of the August 8, 2016 FDA deadline was not the only thing keeping the Cuttwood team busy in 2016.
During 2016, the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) issued by the European Union went into effect. Among other things, TPD limits the bottle volume of e-liquid sold in EU countries to 10 milliliters per bottle and requires e-liquid companies to test and register (with European governments) all of their e-liquid products if they want to continue selling such products in the European Union after the November 20, 2016 TPD deadline.
In advance of the TPD deadline, Cuttwood worked closely with international consultants and attorneys to help guide Cuttwood through sourcing TPD-compliant 10 mL bottle assemblies and developing TPD-compliant labelling and packaging. To complicate matters further, each EU country requires the language written on the e-liquid packaging to be printed in the national language of each respective member country. As a result, Cuttwood also engaged professional translators to make the appropriate translations for each country Cuttwood sought to register products in.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how many late nights and weekends we all spent in developing TPD-compliant product and making the necessary regulatory filings. But we were honored to have developed such a strong following in Europe, and so we took it on as a personal mission to make sure our European fam[ily] would continue to be able to get Cuttwood product. Leaving them hanging just wasn’t an option,” said Unger.
When all was said and done, Cuttwood had developed country-specific packaging, and registered all of its flavors in varying nicotine levels, in numerous EU countries including: United Kingdom, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Latvia and Lithuania.
“We figured registering our products in those EU countries was a good start, but we look forward to developing packaging and registering our products in other EU countries as demand continues to grow.” Although Cuttwood’s EU product has labels that are customized for each EU country, Cuttwood continues to bottle all of its e-liquid in California for export globally.
“I think that having our product produced in California is appealing to international consumers, and helps the Cuttwood brand stand apart. Our experience has been that international consumers are interested in more than just buying a bottle with an American name on the label. They want to enjoy e-liquid that is actually crafted in the US. They want to feel connected to the California vape culture in particular, and by buying and carrying Cuttwood bottled here, they are.”
“Doing what we need to do to register our products and obtain the necessary approvals from the FDA in order to continue to legally sell our products in the U.S. after the FDA’s August 2018 deadline. That’s what’s next,” answered Unger. “It’s going to be a painful and expensive process, but we need to do it. Cuttwood is not one of those companies that is just looking to make a quick buck until the FDA shuts them down. We are committed to this market and are in it for the long haul. I want to make sure this special thing we’ve worked so hard to build keeps going, keeps growing, and the Cuttwood team is committed to this goal.”
Cuttwood is also committed to becoming truly a global brand. While the Cutttwood name is well known in many parts of the world, Cuttwood products are not always readily available to customers located outside of the US and Europe. To address this issue, Cuttwood is keenly focused on expanding its international distribution network, particularly in developing markets such as Asia, South America and the Middle East.
Given all that Cuttwood has accomplished in the three years it has been in business, the Cuttwood management team believes these goals are attainable.