Chewing on innovative flavors

by Allison Gibeson
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With various indulgent and fruit flavors driving new interest and growth in the gum market, the category as a whole has weathered the recession well as it has experienced sales growth in a down economy. With innovation a driving force, private label has not grabbed a major position in the category.

“From a flavor perspective, consumers are seeking more indulgent flavors,” said Jennifer Jackson-Luth, senior manager of marketing communications for the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Chicago. “From a functional perspective, gum chewers have been using Extra gum as one of the tools that could help avoid snack cravings for the past few years, and these two factors simply lend themselves to the desire for a dessert flavored line.”

To this end, the company is rolling out Extra Dessert Delights with flavors such as mint chocolate chip, strawberry shortcake and key lime pie.

“Extra Dessert Delights is an incredibly important launch — the sub-line fills a white space in the gum market, opening a world of new opportunity for the way people think about gum,” Ms. Jackson-Luth said. “Chewers can indulge in a 5-calorie per stick piece of dessert-flavored gum rather than consuming a higher calorie dessert option.”

According to Wrigley, consumers chew gum to improve oral health, reduce stress, increase alertness, and reduce snack cravings. Ms. Jackson-Luth said the increase of tropical as well as Latin American food and culture in the United States has even reached the gum category, with Wrigley introducing flavors with Latin American influences such as Orbit Tropical Remix.

“Until around the mid-1990s, the gum category had only a few flavors … but in the past 15 years Wrigley has catapulted our flavor pipeline,” Ms. Jackson-Luth said. “For example, Wrigley’s Orbit introduction of Sweet Mint marketed the first time an indulgent, creamy flavor was brought to the mint gum profile. We also established excitement and diversity in fruit-flavored gum. For years, Juicy Fruit gum sat alone, but today Wrigley has a lot of innovation and unique flavor combinations within the fruit segment. Consumers chew for functional reasons, but now more than ever consumers are looking for entertainment, enjoyment, a way to kick boredom or just a taste of something sweet.”

While mint flavors still dominate the category overall, Mintel International, Chicago, said consumers have shown the ability and willingness to adopt new flavor profiles. Mintel said Latin and Asian flavors as well as superfruits such as pomegranate, lychee, acai berry and guava are becoming popular.

Sugarless gum also has been a driver in the category, accounting for nearly two thirds of gums, mints and breath fresher sales, Mintel said. In terms of products from Cadbury, a Kraft Foods Inc.-owned business, Dentyne Pure has an ingredient blend called NeutraFresh, which is marketed as a blend of ingredients shown to neutralize bad breath odors. Some gums even have dental health benefits, with Trident Xtra Care containing Recaldent, a milk-derived ingredient that has casein, calcium and phosphate designed to help rebuild enamel.

“Functional gums offer consumers a distinct benefit when it comes to breath freshening,” said David Fleischer, director of trade development for Cadbury. “Consumers are looking for innovative solutions to purify their breath.”

Ms. Jackson-Luth said flavor, packaging and marketing innovation will drive the future of the gum market in terms of innovation.

“The category is on-trend with many of the consumer mega trends — such as wellness, ease of use, affordability, pleasure and sensations,” Mr. Fleischer said. “I would also expect innovation (product and packaging) to continue to drive the category. And lastly, I anticipate some of the major brands will do unique things to re-invent and contemporize themselves in consumer eyes via longer lasting products, better flavor and packaging improvements.”

According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, there were 80 new gum products launched in the United States in 2009, down from 155 in 2008. In 2010 through Oct. 27, there were 58 new gum products introduced.

Mintel said the gum, mints and breath fresheners category is expected to reach $1.5 billion in sales in 2013. Two gum products — Orbit Mist and Trident Layers — were listed as “Rising Stars” this past year from SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, which shows their success as recently introduced products and relevance in the marketplace.

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