E-cigarette giant Juul's momentum is slowing as rivals woo customers with less expensive vapes and fruity flavors, according to the latest Nielsen data.
Juul's dollar share slipped slightly, down 0.3 percentage points to 71.4%, in the four weeks ended Aug. 10, according to Nielsen scanner data compiled by Cowen analyst Vivien Azer. This marks Juul's "first [year-over-year] share loss since its massive-run up," Azer said Tuesday in a note to clients.
The company's dollar sales fell 0.4% from the previous month and "once again has shown declines as seen in the first two periods of 2019," Azer said. To be sure, Juul still dominates the category. But the results show Juul is not immune from competition.
Juul stopped selling fruity flavors in retail stores last year amid pressure from the Food and Drug Administration to curb a teen vaping "epidemic." Sensing an opportunity, rivals steeply discounted their e-cigarette devices and left fruity flavors in stores.
Late last year, NJOY started selling its Ace e-cigarettes for 99 cents in stores, compared with the $7.99 it currently charges online. A Juul device runs for $34.99 online.
NJOY's attempts appear to be working. The company has captured 11.6% of dollar share, a 10.2% year-over-year increase. Dollar sales surged 34.4% from the prior period and an eye-popping 1,141.2% from the year-ago period.
Competitors are following NJOY's lead. British American Tobacco's Vuse brand is selling its Alto vapes for 99 cents online, down from $24.99, when someone buys a pack of pods. Blu is running a similar promotion where people can buy a myblu device for $1, down from the $19.99 it normally charges.
NJOY also sells flavors that Juul does not in stores, including watermelon twist and blueberry. Critics say fruity flavors attract teens.
NJOY did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. Founded in 2006, the company went bankrupt three years ago. It's now trying to mount a comeback.