Chewing gum sales are powering ahead of confectionery and further boosted by sugar-free and dental care variants says Tracy Kelly
Chewing gum is one of the true stars of the confectionery sector, with sales stretching to unprecedented heights in recent years.
Information Resources puts value sales for the total gum category at £234m (w/e 12 Aug 2001), up 7.2% on the previous year, although Wrigley, which dominates the sector, values the sector at £294m and says sales have grown five times faster than total confectionery since 1997.
Similarly, in its report Chewing Gum & Mints (Dec 01), Mintel says the chewing gum and bubble gum market was worth an estimated £286m in 2001, up 42% on the 1996 level.
The overall gum market includes both bubble gum and chewing gum, but Mintel says sugarfree chewing gum, first introduced in the late 70s ­ is now the only growth sector in the gum market.
Certainly, sugar-free is the major player in the market at the moment, accounting for more than 80% of all chewing gum and bubble gum sales.
Because of its dominance in the market, Wrigley effectively segments the sugar-free market with its leading brands: Extra, the mainstream sugar-free gum; Airwaves, a decongestent gum; and Orbit, the first sugar-free chewing gum to be accredited by the British Dental Association. "Three of the top five profit earning confectionery countlines are Wrigley products with Extra Peppermint at number one and Extra Spearmint at number two," points out Jo Hartop, Wrigley's head of communications.
Behind the scenes, a lot of effort goes into generating these profits.
Wrigley is one of the biggest confectionery advertisers, spending over £25m on consumer advertising for the June 01-02 period, and has campaigns coming up this autumn for X.Cite, Extra, Orbit and Airwaves.
The company also has a policy of regular new products, as it says 47% of gum sales are from products less than five years old and 84% from those under 12 years old.
In line with this, Wrigley launched the new X.Cite brand of gum pearls' in April while its first ever limited-edition chewing gum is out at the end of this month. Airwaves Spicy Cocktail takes chewing gum flavours in a totally new direction and like its fellow Airwaves products, will offer additional vapour release benefits'.
Added benefits are important in the gum sector as they have strong consumer appeal. Wrigley's Jo Hartop says dental-friendly products are particularly appealing: "Today, changes in people's lifestyles, with more and more people eating and snacking on the move, has increased awareness of the benefits of chewing a sugarfree gum like Orbit, which can help prevent tooth decay and provides enjoyable oral healthcare on the move."
The demand for dental friendly gum saw Colgate Dental Gum launch last year with Peppermint, Menthol and Sparkling Mint Whitening chewing gum in flip-top boxes supported by a £13m campaign. CDG says it "tapped into key flavour and cosmetic cues not offered by existing brands" and has consequently brought in new consumers.
Information Resources recorded sales of £4.6m for CDG for the year ending July 14, 2002, while Colgate says sales topped £7m in the first 10 months, and plans to launch the brand worldwide.
Mintel predicts that dental care brands will increasingly make their presence felt, and this looks likely following last year's tie-up between Wrigley and Procter & Gamble, which has already resulted in an extension of the existing Orbit brand in the US in the form of Orbit White with Crest Dual Action Whitening.