Sales of chewing gum have risen 2.7% to £213m [Nielsen 52w/e 6 November 2010], marking a significant turnaround after the 7% slump in 2009.
And market leader Wrigley, which credits the return to positive growth to an improved performance across its brands, is promising fresh NPD to deliver further growth.
Extra, which has a majority 56% share of the market, has arrested the 12% decline of 2009 with a flat performance this year, while second-biggest brand Airwaves has jumped 9.7% [Nielsen].
Wrigley will now relaunch its premium Extra Ice range (rsp: 46p), with stronger oral care credentials from February, with an Extra Ice White gum joining the existing Peppermint and Spearmint gums. All three will contain Microgranules, a new speckled coating, and Xylitol a natural ingredient that helps prevent plaque. The use of Xylitol helped the range win new accreditation from the British Dental Health Foundation.
"There hasn't been a big whitening gum product for some time, whereas in Germany the number one gum SKU is a whitener," said Wrigley sales director Duncan McCulloch. It is also halving the Orbit range to two SKUs, in a bid to revive a 4.9% drop in sales.
McCulloch credited this year's sales lifts to the success of its £10m Food Creatures campaign. Kicking off in April, the TV ads had "step-changed" the way chewing gum was advertised by delivering functional messages in an entertaining way, added McCulloch.
Upweighting advertising spend was also a key driver. In 2009, Wrigley ran only four weeks of TV ads. This rose to 20 weeks in 2010, and the company also placed advertorials in stylish magazines such as GQ and The Times supplements. Next year, Wrigley is upping marketing spend by a further £1m to £11m and running 26 weeks of TV ads.
McCulloch said the heftier marketing budgets were a result of Mars Wrigley pin-pointing the UK as a priority market.
"Globally, it is looking at the UK because, on average, Britons use less chewing gum than either Europe or the US," he said.
Range optimisation has also been employed by Cadbury in a bid to arrest a 32.7% slump over the past year. It blamed the drop on its decision to remove poorer-performing variants. "However our Trebor gum is performing strongly following its launch in 2009 and continues to grow with the launch of our multipack format," a spokeswoman added.