Let’s remember why we all started vaping.
We started because we wanted a healthier alternative to smoking- and for many people, it can be cheaper too. When you start vaping it’s all about finding a vape setup that helps you stay off cigarettes, but as your tastebuds come back and you realize the world of flavour possibilities, a new quest begins, a quest for ultimate flavour or ultimate clouds. For us, it was Flavour.
What happens next is getting off the pre-made coils and learning to build your own in either a rebuildable tank (RTA) or a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA). Very quickly, you realize not all atomizers are created equal: the design, shape, and airflow all play major roles in the quality of vapor and flavour delivery.
So, now your quest becomes more and more expensive as you buy, trade, sell multiple attys looking for the one that will become your favourite or deliver the ultimate experience. This adventure starts at your local shop- but as you get more consumed with this quest, you start to do more and more research and eventually start looking online to try to purchase the hard to find attys.
There are two states to this industry: the mainstream mass-produced products, and the high end more artisanal small run products. What is unique about the vaping industry is all the innovation is coming from the small craftsman and not the companies with tons of infrastructure and resources. But there is a problem, in that the demand is growing everyday as the market continues to grow.
As a new industry, vaping has only really taken off in the last year. The numbers are making this a more and more viable and lucrative market. With this, comes lots of people, and more and more demand. A lot of these small companies or individuals just can’t keep up with demand as they try to stay true to the vaping community and keep their products “locally sourced and produced”. It creates a lot of frustration for many that want to try products that offer a superior vape experience but just can’t get one from a secret Facebook group or websites that are constantly out of stock. It’s created a whole other segment to the industry, flipping: individuals that secure a product at retail price but then mark it up at extraordinary rates to meet demand. In some cases attys that cost $100 and be sold for $800! A cool 800% mark up, which is ridiculous.
To top off all this frustration and rather crazy expense, there is a strong sense of loyalty to these craftsman, and for good reason, they have created and designed outstanding products!
But what do you do if you can’t get one? Do you spend the insane flipping rates (if you can afford them), do you spend all your free time scouring the internet hoping to find one? Let’s remember, in most cases you’re purchasing this product sight unseen, and in the end- you may not care for something you spent so much time and effort to secure.
Here is where the role of clones come in. Why not try a copy of this atty you want? Sure, it won’t have the same build quality and if you don’t source a 1:1 clone it may not perform exactly to spec- but in many cases, they do. What this does is validate whether the time and effort to secure an authentic version is worth it. And for some of us (who aren’t made of money), it’s an alternative that allows you to experience a better vape.
A lot of the most innovative designs are very small runs- with less than a couple hundred units being produced a month. This causes very high production costs, and to top it off producing them locally just adds to the cost exorbitantly. So in many cases the retail cost of these attys is very high if you can get one. It just isn’t a model that can scale as this industry explodes, and it really hasn’t exploded yet. We are all early adopters, what happens as more and more smokers switch to vaping?
Some companies or individuals have teamed up with larger producers/companies to bring their designs to a larger audience at a more affordable cost (Jaybo, VaporFlask/VapeForward, Suprimo). There have been benefits to this, in that it has allowed for more innovative ideas to be executed. Not that all have been successful, but that’s not point, the point is that the model becomes scalable. There is (of course) a lot of concern about these products being produced overseas (China), but this is the way of the world, almost everything we own and love is produced overseas. The device you are reading this on, many household items, even many components in “American” cars are produced overseas too. If these industries couldn’t find a better way, why is there a thought that it can be done for vaping? If this industry is going to be sustainable and survive all the government scrutinization it needs to be run with more business acumen.
There seems to us to be a bit of a disconnect going on in the industry. Isn’t the primary goal of vaping to quit smoking and be healthier? Shouldn’t it be about producing innovative products in the most cost effective way possible so more people can enjoy them and stop smoking? Vaping equipment is one of the only items where cost doesn’t equate to performance. Buying a $900 40W device that is made of premium materials but doesn’t perform any better than a much more affordable device makes no sense. It’s like buying a Lamborghini with a 2L Hyundai engine. And let’s remember that ALL chipsets are made overseas (even Evolve).
Something doesn’t add up. Let’s look at the unicorn or all unicorn attys right now. The M-Atty, it sells/flips for $800+! There are very few, so who knows how it vapes? It has a demand that way overshadows production. We get and appreciate that there are premium products that not everyone can afford. BUT, if there are so many more people who want one than what these companies produce, there is a huge missed opportunity. Now add that this week you can buy a clone made of high-grade stainless (316) for $20, it gets even crazier! This is where the benefit of mass production really shows its value. The RRP of a M-Atty is around $140 and yet an overseas company can produce a very similar product with a profit margin included for almost 1/7 the cost. Why are we not demanding at least a portion this cost benefit? Sure- produce a small run to test the market, if the demand is there, mass produce- (overseas OR locally!) Get your awesome products into more hands and give yourself time to design and produce new and better products. Also clone quality is improving but would get even better if the designers worked in partnership with mass producers to control the quality!
We all want to support Authentics but it can be hard to justify at a cost increase of 3900%.- you can buy the authentic M-Atty if you can find it for the $800+ price tag or a pretty decent clone for $20. It’s up to you. But we feel we have a duty to cover and review both. Because until this industry sorts itself out, it’s not fair to discount the only opportunity that some might have to find, afford or try a product.
One more thing, with all of these highly sought after attys being hard to get, afford, or find there has been this major surge in waffle sites/groups. This is a lottery system, usually 10 spots for anywhere between $25-several hundred that are then randomly drawn for a winner. This is not openly talked about, but it’s creating a gambling addiction for some vapers. Is this something we want happening in our community? Trading one bad addiction or another? It’s a side-effect that needs to be considered- it’s a problem.
It’s been a big week for clones, finally many of the highly sought after higher end attys ($100+) are now available. You can try a clone out before you decide to go after the authentic (if possible), that way you will know if it’s worth the effort and/or cost.
All Prices in USD. All Clones are 316 Stainless Steel.
Try the clone, if you love it, buy the authentic.