“My father was determined to stop me and my brother from smoking,” recalls Managing Director Olivier Martzel. “In that, and in the development of the business, he has been doubly successful.” Didier Martzel was lucky that his background in electronics left him ideally positioned to find an alternative to a habit that kills one in two of those who take it up.
“Everyone agrees that smoking is harmful and that nicotine is addictive,” says Mr. Martzel. “What e-cigarettes do is allow people to get the nicotine hit safely while giving them a way to reduce their dependence. Therefore, our e-liquids are available in a range of nicotine concentrations right down to zero nicotine content.”
Less than six years after launching Alfaliquid, Gaïatrend had already risen to a position of pre-eminence in the vaping market in France. To this day, the company continues to strengthen its international position. “At the very beginning, China was the only e-liquid supplier in the world. Producing in France would allow us to get full control of our e-liquids, from their conception to their production, while offering higher safety and traceability,” says Mr. Martzel. “Unlike cigarettes, which contain a host of harmful chemicals besides tobacco, our e-liquids contain only four ingredients, three out of the four are pharma-grade (vegetable glycerine, propylene-glycol and nicotine), and will remain so all along the production process, while the aromatic components are certified as food-grade flavourings.”
The person responsible for developing all of the flavours in the portfolio is Mr. Martzel’s younger brother Xavier. His background is in chemistry, with additional training as an aroma specialist. A key point is that Xavier does not mix flavours as most of the manufacturers in the market usually do, but conceives the aromas directly by assembling molecular components, which enables a higher safety level for consumers. Furthermore, Gaïatrend guarantees that its e-liquids do not contain diacetyl, parabens or Ambrox.
In 2018, Gaïatrend obtained the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) as well as the AFNOR e-liquid Certification. All the processes implemented enabled the company to be selected by an independent medical Commitee as the official e-liquid supplier for two major clinical studies on vaping currently in progress in France and in Switzerland.
Vaping Alfaliquid e-liquids is a much safer alternative to deliver nicotine than smoking. “It is the smoke that is inhaled when burning tobacco that is dangerous,” insists Mr. Martzel. “E-cigarettes provide a similar experience to smoking but with much reduced risk to health.”
Studies have backed this claim up and e-cigarettes are seen as an approved way of helping smokers quit. “One good way of measuring the effect of smoking on the body is to measure the amount of carbon monoxide in the blood,” explains Mr. Martzel. “Smokers typically have higher concentrations of carbon monoxide in their blood. Carbon monoxide attaches to red blood cells and impedes their ability to transport oxygen around the body. However, the rate of carbon monoxide is substantially lowered after just a week of abstinence from smoking. By switching to e-cigarettes, this benefit can be permanent.”
The advantage of vaping as a way of quitting smoking over other forms of nicotine delivery is that the act of vaping mimics quite closely that of smoking. Vaping, however, has much more to offer. “We have more than 100 different flavours in the portfolio,” says Mr. Martzel. “Although most new vapers start with tobacco or fresh/mint flavours, our Alfaliquid e-liquids offer an extremely wide range of flavours to choose from. From pungent to fruity, from single flavours to more complex recipes, there is something to suit every taste.”
Gaïatrend’s e-liquids are targeted at adult smokers. “There are not the same restrictions on the sale of e-liquids for vaping as there are for tobacco products, as long as the customer is an adult, however we position our products for sale in specialized shops that can provide the necessary help and advice to new vapers as well as returning customers,” says Mr. Martzel.
Since its start, the company has recorded a yearly double-digit growth. As first mover in the French e-liquids market, the Alfaliquid brand enjoys a leadership position. Its products are now also sold in 25 other countries, although foreign sales only account for 10% of turnover.
“There is a great deal of potential still to be exploited in foreign markets. The European vaping business is still in its early stages but has the potential to become a multibillion-euro market in just a few years’ time,” foresees Mr. Martzel. After several months of research and development, Gaïatrend has just launched a brand new vaping device named Alfapod, a prefilled pod system with the Feelm technology. Feelm is a revolutionary technology which combines a Metal Film with a Ceramic Conductor, for an optimized vaping experience. “This is the next big step for us,” concludes Mr. Martzel.