ZampleBox And Craft Vapery
One of the more interesting developments in the vaping scene during 2013 and moving into 2014 has been the emergence of eLiquid subscription services. I previewed one of them last month, Craft Vapery , and promised that once I had experienced what they have to offer, I would report back. The time has come.
However, Craft Vapery isn’t the only such service to emerge, in fact it’s not even the first one to emerge. In this two-part article on the eLiquid Subscription Service category, Craft Vapery will be reviewed and compared to its biggest competitor, ZampleBox. Then, at the end of Part 2, I’ll provide my personal thoughts on which of them — in my opinion — offers a stronger value, as well as where I see this category of service presenting the greatest value to Vapers.
ZampleBox and Craft Vapery have their own standout features and, in my opinion, a weakness or two. I hope that by the time you’ve read this, you’ll feel a bit more confident in which service — if either — will provide you with the biggest value for your vaping dollar.
What Is An eLiquid Subscription Service Anyway?
Before I dive in and talk about the services of ZampleBox and Craft Vapery it’s a good bet that many of you, perhaps new Vapers or readers that simply haven’t yet heard of either service yet, may not even know what an eLiquid subscription service is. I’ll try to be brief, but it’s important to know what kind of service this is, and what they are all about before we can even begin to consider whether or not either service is worth your hard-earned money, or even if either one is even a viable alternative for you.
An eLiquid Subscription Service, or eSS, is a monthly subscription service where the customer, subscriber, or member, (depending on the marketing approach each company uses), receives a sort of “care package” of various eLiquids. For X-amount of dollars the customer/subscriber/member receives X-amount of eLiquid each month, around the same day each month. Depending entirely on the company you choose, you will have certain opportunities to choose certain characteristics of the eJuice you’ll receive.
You might want to be completely surprised, open to trying any ‘new-to-you’ eLiquid, or you might want to focus only on certain flavors or flavor groups. ZampleBox and Craft Vapery offer different customization opportunities and you will want to know how they differ before making a decision. Both, at the time of this writing, offer you the choice of nicotine strength, which was something ZampleBox could not offer in the beginning.
Why Would You Want A Subscription Service For E Liquid?
And that is the crux of the issue, isn’t it? Why would anyone need a subscription service from ZampleBox and Craft Vapery to begin with? This question plagued me for some time while I was boning up on both companies and examining (vaping) the products received from both companies. First, Craft Vapery is the more expensive of the two. Expensive to the point that it’s difficult to understand why anyone would spend $33 for 45ML on eLiquid. At 73 cents per ML, without any guarantee that what you are going to receive is something you want to vape just doesn’t seem like a smart move.
ZampleBox, while much less expensive at $24.99 a month for 50ML of eLiquid, works pretty much the same way. In fact, ZampleBox was the first ‘ e Liquid subscription service’ and the first to gain any sort of momentum. And just like any business model, if there is even a spark of success you can bet there will be several more companies emulating that model as fast as humanly possible. In fact, just yesterday I learned of a third company, Easy Vape Club, that will soon launch, though their business model leaves much to be desired at this point in the game, they too are attempting to jump on the subscription bandwagon. In any case, ZampleBox offers a much more affordable subscription, and it’s definitely aimed more toward the customer/subscriber/member that wants to explore as many different flavors as possible. Still, both companies beg the question; Who Needs It?
As it turns out, there are several reasons why you might want to belong to one of these services, (maybe both) Here are just a few reasons I thought of where an eLiquid Subscription Service makes sense:
1. Gifting – This, to me, is the most obvious reason why an eLiquid Subscription Service can make sense. Maybe your spouse or significant other has recently started vaping, perhaps a family member or a friend are Vapers with a birthday or a holiday coming up and you have no idea what to get them, or even a spur-of-the-moment gift to anyone you know as a ‘thank you’ gesture… there are unlimited reasons for wanting to give a gift to someone in your life, and a gift of an eSS could make the best possible gift. And what better way to make a Vaper smile then to give him or her a monthly supply of new eLiquids to vape?
2. To Seek The Perfect Vape – If there is one thing all Vapers have in common it’s the desire to find that perfect vape. We search continually, buying new flavors of eLiquids, or trying out a new brand, especially brands we’ve heard about before, and we’re always taking suggestions from fellow Vapers, all in the name of finding that one eLiquid that helps us reach nirvana. If you can afford the subscription to an eSS then it is definitely one way to bring the search to you, and at the same time something fun to look forward to each month. With every package, every month, lies the ‘chance‘ that the perfect vape is waiting for you just inside. Pretty hard to resist, isn’t it?
3. Out of the Country – Whether you’re an expat or a citizen of the UK, Ireland, France, or 100 other countries, buying US eLiquid is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Having a subscription to either service means having a box of eLiquids delivered to your door every month, around the same time each month, which is a great way to bypass all the red tape and excessive shipping fees of ordering from one or two specific US based eJuice brands. With an eSS you have the opportunity to try several new flavors and/or brands every month without fail. When you’ve found something you like, well, you now know where to get more, while you continue to explore the contents of new packages of eLiquids that will arrive like clockwork for as long as you want them to.
4. Educational – What better way is there to learn about new eLiquids then to have a few bottles of mystery juice delivered to your door every month? You may have been vaping only tobacco flavors, or bakery flavors, or fruity flavors, and now you’re not sure where to spend your ‘vape budget’ so that you don’t feel as though you wasted it, but still have the opportunity to try new flavors. By having a subscription you’ll have that opportunity to find out what kinds of new flavors, or new PG/VG ratios are out there, and which ones you like, and which ones you don’t. After several months you’ll know more about eLiquids and your own preferences for them, then you ever thought possible.
Surely there are more reasons for wanting to have a subscription to an eLiquid delivery service, so I invite you to speculate on those other reasons and post them in the comments section below.
So, now that you know some of the basics of eLiquid Subscription Services let’s jump right in and see how Craft Vapery delivered on the promises they make:
Part One: Craft Vapery
To begin with, let’s have a little follow-up from last month on Craft Vapery’s subscription model.
Since I received my initial Craft Vapery package the company has lowered their base subscription model to $33. This $33 dollars buys you 3x 15ML bottles of eLiquid, a total of 45ML.
One of the better features of Craft Vapery’s subscription model is the ability for the subscriber to choose both nicotine strength and flavor types; which ones best suit the customer/member/subscriber. And while this can be a strength it can also be a weakness because you may get eJuice you’re already familiar with, which sort of takes the spirit of exploration out of the service, though many people find that option appealing. I would imagine that overseas subscribers would especially appreciate this option.
The cost, while lower than it was initially, still amounts to premium pricing for what are not necessarily guaranteed to match your idea of premium liquids. We’ll get into just what sort of liquids I received in just a bit. For now, let’s get into the presentation with Craft Vapery, from the initial website signup process to the first delivery.
Craft Vapery’s website is both gorgeous and very functional. Signing up is easy, straightforward, and fast. I love the process of signing up, and the extra little goodies that you can get are a real delight. Should you desire you can add a box of cartomizers to your package every month for a nominal price of $7.00, or a pack of Kanger atomizers for $7.00 (the atomizers are matched to the $50 starter kit you can add to your first package.) That Starter Kit consists of a eGo Twist (1100mAh), a Protank II, a 5-pack of atomizers, and a USB charger. Valued at $75, first time members can pick one up for $50.
During the signup process you choose from a selection of flavor groups, or a “surprise me” selection, indicate the nicotine strength you want, including zero-nicotine, and then simply checkout. You can go from A-Z in about 90 seconds. When your package arrives you’ll be greeted with a light brown/tan box with very little identifying markings for maximum discretion.
What came in my first Craft Vapery shipment was a trio of 15ml bottles of eLiquid. I selected nicotine strength of 18mg, the highest Craft Vapery allows right now, as well as selecting the flavor types of Coffee, Leaf Tobacco, and Cigarette.
I received the following liquids:
-Cyber Liquids “Cafe Royale”
-Doc Bailey’s Elixir “Coffee”
-The Force Vapor “Chewbacco”
While I like the idea of being able to choose the general types of flavors I’ll discover, I have to say in complete honesty that I found myself disappointed to receive two coffee flavors and only one tobacco flavor. While there could be any number of very good reasons for this, it does bear mentioning because it’s something that can and did happen.
Here I should give a brief word of explanation regarding how I have come to define what is or isn’t a premium eLiquid. My view on that has changed somewhat. For example, when I contributed to the Evolve review, I didn’t consider those to be ‘premium’ liquids. However, I’ve grown a little more flexible about what, to me, constitutes a premium vape, and perhaps I wrong mistaken about Evolve. Placing less weight on the importance of the presentation, two out of three of the eLiquids I received from Craft Vapery did meet my definition of premium: Doc Bailey’s Elixir and The Force Vapor. Let me state, so that there isn’t any confusion, that all three liquids were very good — but only those two, in my opinion, rose above very good and achieved what I consider to be a premium experience.
The basis on which I am describing these two liquids as premium is as simple as the quality of the vapor, throat hit and flavor delivered with each puff. While Cyber Liquids’ “Cafe Royale” was good, it just didn’t blow me away on any of those three criteria. Doc Bailey’s Coffee and The Force Vapor’s Chewbacco did.
Part Two: ZampleBox
ZampleBox’s subscription model is a modest ~$25 per month for 50ml (in 5 10ml bottles) of eLiquid. When you compare that to $33/45ml of eLiquid, the volume to dollar ratio favorite really does become clear.
The ZampleBox website is every bit as nice as Craft Vapery’s, and just as functional, with one major exception. Unlike Craft Vapery ZampleBox is “Invitation Only”. That’s right, invitation only. Now, why would a company that desires to grow restrict membership in this way. Because they are smart. Let me briefly explain.
ZampleBox has had a few discussions with Spinfuel eMagazine. Our publisher put some very tough questions to the owner of ZampleBox. Our concern was that this idea, this business model, could take off like a rocket. People could potentially join up in the tens of thousands. If that was to be the case how would ZampleBox assure us, Spinfuel, that they would be able to deliver what they promised to their customers, our readers?