Taken in isolation, sales figures for Pfizer’s Listerine Actives dissolvable breath-freshening strips would look pretty respectable. The brand has captured a 2.1% share of the £179m mint confectionery market in its first year, according to AC Nielsen Homescan (for the year ending January 10,2004), a proportion that translates to £3.8m in value.
However, Pfizer’s product had the misfortune to hit the market at the same time as a similar innovation from Wrigley, Extra Thin Ice. This turned out to be one of the year’s biggest confectionery success stories, with Wrigley’s debutante claiming sales of more than £14m.
The Listerine brand offers an extra anti-bacterial element over its rival as well as a strong heritage in mouthwash, while Wrigley is better established in sugar confectionery. Pfizer had been first to market in the US but was pipped to the UK post by Wrigley. Despite a £4m marketing investment, Listerine Actives has yet to catch up with its rival.
Nevertheless, UK distributor Cadbury Trebor Basset said first-year performance had been “encouraging”. Customer relations director Chris Morgan said repeat purchase rate was ahead of Extra Thin Ice and its trial rate of 45% rate was “almost double the average of any other mint product”.
From this month, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare will handle distribution to the grocery trade while Jenks Sales Brokers will deal with impulse.