About a week after its official launch on China’s two top e-commerce sites, US e-cigarette giant Juul Labs’ products have now vanished from sight, KrASIA has learned.
As of Tuesday 4 p.m., a search on JD.com and Tmall, an Alibaba owned e-commerce platform, returned with no products’ results when using “Juul” as the keyword. The flagship store page however remains intact.
The removal comes amid a sensitive timing, just after the US government last Wednesday banned flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves. The US health officials are investigating a handful of deaths and potentially hundreds of lung illnesses tied to vaping, Reuters reported.
China published draft standards in June to regulate the country’s burgeoning e-cigarettes sector, although no date has been set for its implementation. Some industry insiders said it could happen as early as October.
Startups such as Relx Technology, Yooz, and Snow+ have jumped onto the vaping bandwagon to target China’s 300 million smokers. They have attracted tens of millions of venture capital dollars from investors.
Juul’s official stores on Tmall and JD.com opened on September 9, according to Reuters. On Tmall, a Juul device with two flavor pods sells for RMB 299 (USD 40). Flavors include mint, mango, and Virginia tobacco, the report said.
When contacted by KrASIA on Tuesday, Juul’s customer service staff on JD.com said its flagship store is currently under adjustments to “enhance consumer services.” It added that the products are only being temporarily taken off the shelf and suggested buyers bookmark the page for product relaunch updates.
Juul, which dominates the US e-cigarette market with a 76% share last year, is reportedly spending more than USD 100 million on branding and marketing operations in China. The company has been making forays into the Philippines, South Korea, and Indonesia.
Juul declined to comment when contacted by KrASIA, while Tmall did not immediately respond to an email seeking a response.
Low De Wei contributed to this report.