It was a disastrous year for Trident and Wrigley Extra but outside gum, Haribo and Rowntree’s delivered impressive sales

What’s gone wrong with gum? That’s the question vexing Mars and Cadbury after sales of their flagship gum brands bombed in 2009. Wrigley’s Extra fell 12.2% in value to £153.9m – a poor return but nothing compared to the 27.1% wiped off the value of the Trident gum brand in only its third year on the market. Cadbury had initially predicted incremental sales of £20m in each of Trident’s first five years on the market, but sales ducked back below the £20m mark as Cadbury was forced to reduce the number of SKUs by two.

Hancocks senior buyer Jonathan Summerley says Trident Splash – Cadbury’s attempt to combine fruit flavours in a gum – has struggled the most. Hancocks is still stocking the gum “but only by the skin of its teeth”.

Summerley says gum makers have been guilty of saturating the market with products that were too elaborate for consumers looking for simplicity.

“There are far too many gum products out there. Trident came out initially with fruit flavours and then Wrigley came out with Fusion and neither worked. We ended up with about 26 lines from Wrigley at one point and a similar amount from Cadbury and it has confused the consumer.”

Revealingly, Summerley says Cadbury’s new Trebor Extra Strong gum has been well received by the trade. “It’s back to basics, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. Over here in the UK, gum does a job, it’s not seen as an indulgent confectionery item.”

Overall, the sugar confectionery market fell 0.9% in value to £1.21bn on fairly static volume sales – up just 0.2%, but stripping out the effect of gum, the market value rose an impressive 9.8%. The two star turns were Rowntree’s and Haribo, with the latter strengthening its status as the number one non-gum brand in sugar confectionery with impressive 9.3% growth to £78.4m. Haribo managing director Herwig Vennekens says the brand’s decision to continue to invest through the downturn has paid dividends.

“We decided a year ago that in this environment, brands that were supported would be rewarded. The new advertising we’ve launched has been tremendously successful and we’ve also increased the investment behind the brand through the marketing programme by more than double digits.”

Haribo has successfully cornered off the kids and mums market, according to Summerley. “Haribo has got a great presence in both the independents and the multiples and they’ve done a good job in getting the brand out there. Haribo is always bringing out new stuff, be it a bagged range or a new pick’n’mix.”

Haribo launched Fruity Fruity this year, a three-in-one product with foam, jelly and a liquid filling, targeted at an older audience. It also added Chew Two – a two-in-one flavour chew sweet – to its Maoam branded range of confectionery.

Haribo has also benefited from being well promoted in-store, according to Summerley, a fact Vennekens acknowledges has helped drive footfall. “We have started to promote at different price points. The customer has responded very positively to round-pound promotions, for instance, and that’s something we introduced from the beginning of the year.”

Hot on Haribo’s heels is Nestlé’s Rowntree’s brand which, buoyed by the launch of Randoms, increased 8.7% in value. Launched into the impulse category, Randoms was supported by a £10m marketing campaign, which has helped it generate £7.2m of sales since launch.

Following in the footsteps of Cadbury’s The Natural Confectionery Company, which hit the UK in 2007 with its wholesome positioning, Randoms contains no artificial colours or flavours.

And it would seem that while fruit flavours are viewed as too wacky in the chewing gum category, strawberry flavoured y-fronts and talking dinosaur sweets are just the thing to liven up the jellies category.

“The launch of Randoms is a natural move for Nestlé,” says Graham Walker, Nestlé UK trade communications manager. “It’s specifically designed to extend the brand’s appeal to a younger adult audience, who look for spontaneity and excitement in their lives.”

“Randoms has been very good for Nestlé,” says Summerley. Vennekens, however, believes the launch has had little impact on Haribo.

“I think that in terms of the social demographic, Rowntree’s and Haribo are not identical. We are very strong with families, children and teenagers, whereas Rowntree’s are coming from the position where they’ve been a very traditional product that spans all age groups.”

As well as newcomers, old favourites have been rediscovered, with the new-look Sherbet Fountain heralded as the icon of the retro revival. But Vennekens suggests that the strongest growth in the sugar confectionery sector is coming from gum sweets and jellies; a view supported by the data.

Along with Haribo and Rowntree, Cadbury’s Maynards brand performed strongly, as did Bassett’s Babies and Bassett’s Allsorts. Louisa Bertamo, Cadbury marketing director for candy, says much of the growth is coming from large bag formats. “Sharing occasions are where we feel our consumer trend is edging towards,” she says. She also suggests that own-label growth, recorded at 3.7% for the past year, is predominantly driven by price hikes as opposed to volume growth.

But Summerley argues own label has been proactive in bringing new concepts to market and bemoans the fact that there’s been precious little innovation from branded manufacturers in the past year. “If you ask me where I’ve seen the most NPD this year, it hasn’t been from Cadbury, Wrigley and Nestlé. Swizzels Matlow have been proactive with their take on the Blackjack and Fruit Salad. Tangerine has obviously repackaged Sherbet Fountain, which has worked. At the end of the day, it’s a bloody good brand and it just needed a kick up the arse.”

Top launch: Rowntree’s Randoms, Nestlé
Mimicking the Haribo formula of jelly sweets in a variety of textures, flavours and shapes, Randoms has hit its target audience of 16 to 24-year-olds square between the eyes, racking up £7.2m of sales since its May launch. Powered by a £10m media campaign, Randoms represents Rowntree’s attempt to extend the brand’s appeal to a young adult audience. 180,000 fans on Facebook suggest it’s mission accomplished.

Top Products Survey 2009