The maker of the best-selling electronic cigarette in the US has set its sights on the UK market with what it claims is the most cigarette-like product available.

NJOY currently has a 49.7% share of the $300m e-cig market in the US with sales doubling in the past two years. Now, with some US analysts predicting sales of electronic cigarettes could outstrip those of regular cigarettes within 10 years, NJOY wants a similar share in the fragmented UK market, and believes its NJOY King is ideally positioned thanks to its look, feel and taste.

Executive vice president Roy Anise told The Grocer consumers’ prime aversion to electronic cigarettes was that they weren’t similar enough to actual cigarettes.

NJOY King is the same size as a regular king-size cigarette and has a soft, squeezable ‘filter’. It also has the most realistic flavour, according to Anise, developed by a former flavour specialist with tobacco giant Altria.

Electronic cigarettes have primarily been sold online in the UK. Nielsen figures suggest the retail market in 2012 was worth £23.9m, while NJOY estimates total market value to be between £120m and £150m during this time.

Vice president international Bo Ekberg said NJOY’s focus in the US was to sell through retail and that it would be pursuing the same strategy in the UK. Having established a UK presence a year ago, the brand is being trialled in a few convenience stores in Central London, with Ekberg expecting to confirm a major listing with at least one of the big four supermarkets within the next four to six weeks.

The e-cig has an RRP of £5.99 and - depending on smoking frequency - is equivalent to between one and two packs of cigarettes. It is available in three flavours: Gold, Bold (Red) and Menthol Gold.

It will be supporting the launch with a marketing campaign featuring trade and consumer press advertising, digital media and in-store POS.

Advertising will focus on NJOY’s mission “to make cigarettes obsolete” and features messages such as “the cigarette has met its match”. “We see ourselves as a technology company and we are serious about our mission statement,” said Anise.

Ekberg added: “We really see cigarettes as analogue to our digital.” The market was currently fragmented, split between 40 to 50 players - but this was likely to settle down to around four or five, he predicted.