CHICAGO — What does it take to refresh a decades-old breath mint brand? For Tic Tac, the answer may be millennials and Minions. The 46-year-old franchise leveraged both in new innovations, one of which claimed the best in show award at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 19-21 in Chicago.
Tic Tac hasn’t strayed from its familiar format over the years, with the exception of seasonal flavors and larger packaging. This year, Somerset, N.J.-based Ferrero USA, Inc., is launching two distinctly different products in its Tic Tac portfolio.
Set to launch in June, Tic Tac Mixers are dual-flavored mints in two varieties. Cherry Cola Tic Tac Mixers morph from a cherry flavor to a cola flavor, and Peach Lemonade Tic Tac Mixers transition from a peach flavor to a sweet lemonade flavor.
“The idea was based on feedback from consumer focus groups we had targeting the millennial consumer, identifying something that is a surprise and delight, trying to overcome this idea of boredom relief,” Dan Cutchin, senior brand manager for Tic Tac, told Food Business News at the expo. “A lot of the mints are the same, and we’re trying to identify something that’s a little different.
“There are some dual-flavored candies out there, but none that transition from one flavor to another. The surprise inside is something that I think sets us apart from our competition.”
He said the Mixers line was the product of extensive qualitative and quantitative research and took roughly a year to develop. Special packaging was developed for the Mixers line to stand out on shelves.
“The goal is to have a steady stream of innovation within the Mixers line,” Mr. Cutchin said. “The idea of having two flavors that transition — I think there’s a lot of legs there in terms of growth and identifying opportunities for innovation.”
Another new item introduced at the expo was Tic Tac Minions, a limited-edition variety of yellow candies that feature the faces of characters from the forthcoming animated movie “Minions.” The product won a 2015 Most Innovative New Product Award at the expo.
“Minions is new for us, and that’s the first licensed product we’ve had,” Mr. Cutchin said. “We’re happy with the way it turned out. It leverages our printed technology. And we’ll have other products coming out in the future that will have printable technology.”
Tic Tac focuses on four core varieties, which include fresh mint, wintergreen, orange and a fruity mix. Beyond that, the brand introduces seasonal flavors and limited-edition varieties, including pink grapefruit from August through October to support cancer awareness, and a colorful holiday mix in November and December. Another variant called Summer Ice Pop debuted last year and will return to shelves for a limited time for the season.
But aside from flavor innovation, Tic Tac has remained true to its shape and packaging.“There’s the equity we want to leverage that consumers know really well,” Mr. Cutchin said. “The Tic Tac box in and of itself is iconic, and consumers know it. And it doesn’t take much to communicate it’s a Tic Tac.”