Concerns About Safety of Competitor's Product, Say Something or Not?


I've been working up to a full launch and found a competitor emerging. I'm making the liquid used in electronic cigarettes, which contains nicotine along with flavoring and components thought to be safer for inhalation (propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine).

There's lots of companies doing this but what makes my product special is including the other "minor tobacco alkaloids" some people feel are that "something missing" when using ecigs vs. their regular tobacco.

Some of this company's statements make me strongly suspect the purity of their isolation procedure and I can basically tell that they aren't doing some of the things I am toward safety.

I'm leaning toward issuing a warning about their product. Are there any reasons to reconsider or any suggestions on an approach to take? I've seen advice like "Pay attention to your competitors, but don't obsess about them." I'm trying to not make it seem like I am just hating on a competitor.

Most of the consumers in this niche don't know about my product yet and are being "flocked" to this competitor by a notable "scientist" in the community who is supporting the competitor. This other company as well as the "scientist" and the consumers don't seem to have the specialized knowledge to tell a good product from a bad one.

Competition Product Launch

asked Aug 26 '11 at 05:54
43 points

2 Answers


Interesting problem, if there are actually safety concerns then you should be raising them ... but given your position they are likely to be ignored or worse reflect badly on you.

Is there an independant third party you could engage to validate or disprove your claims? If so then this is the path I would be heading for.

Alternatively you could start by giving it as a practical experiement to a University which would be independant and the "scientist" you mention would have a far harder time arguing against a group like that.

answered Aug 26 '11 at 10:09
Robin Vessey
8,394 points
  • It probably won't be ignored. It is somewhat awkward timing but I was about to launch anyhow and I expect more demand than I can handle. Yes, it would be nice to find a third party to check their results, but I am skeptical of a University taking it up for free. Another project working with a university on an indoor air quality study cost around $75K. The way I know their product is probably not pure is that they are using all these different tobaccos and getting different tastes, including "ashy" which worries me. I concentrate on a specific tobacco because it is lowest in a certain toxicant. – Praxeologist 11 years ago


Don't say anything about your competitor.

Just assert your believed "safety" in your own product and be transparent about your product and process.

Think of Volvo's ads/marketing in years past - they claimed to be safer than the rest without actually having to say the others were unsafe.

Don't get involved in another company/product. bad idea.

One most significant reason is that you have no idea how they make their stuff - in spite of your belief that you do.

Nothing good can come of it.

answered Aug 26 '11 at 10:40
Tim J
8,346 points
  • Because they are having any significant flavor, I can tell they are not properly isolating the alkaloids. Most flavors don't "like" the isolation process. Because they are jumping from tobacco to tobacco, I know they are not targeting the one lowest in carcinogens (they are so different to almost be whole different species). Anyhow, I think what you are saying is probably the right thing to do but I wanted to speak up. I do have the ability to launch first and at under half their prices, so probably it is best to "take the high road" and subtly mention what I am doing better as it relates. – Praxeologist 11 years ago
  • So I thought about it a little more and agree. I've read some things like that not everyone is going to like you and it can be good to be a "polarizing figure", but I am just going to play it safe. The topic will probably come up but I will try to take the high road. – Praxeologist 11 years ago

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