FNS -- As more retailers move toward mom-pleasing, candy-free front-end lanes, operators are discovering that there are lucrative marketing opportunities to be found in adult segments. Adult-oriented gum and mint items have started to fill checkout lane gaps that were previously occupied by kiddy-oriented delights.
Replacing the stockkeeping units previously held by candy is not a worry, as manufacturers have responded to the health-oriented desires of consumers with a bevy of breath-freshening and oral care gums and mints. But retailers do question the healthfulness of the categories' sales potential.
Statistics from Information Resources, Inc., Chicago, show that in the breath-freshener category -- for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 12, 2001 -- unit sales are down 8.1% while dollar sales are up by 1%. While supermarket sales account for $170 million of the total $371 million in dollar sales, that figure is down 0.4%, and down 10.2% in unit sales from the same period last year. Drug chains, with $89 million, and mass merchants, with $111 million, posted 1.8% and 2.5% dollar gains, respectively.
ACNielsen, Schaumburg, Ill., also shows supermarkets with a comfortable dollar lead in the $403 million breath-sweetener category, posting $152 million in sales. However, ACNielsen's Convenience Track for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 1, 2001, also records slippage at 4.6%.
Gum, another front-end favorite, represents $479 million in dollar sales, according to IRI. Again, supermarkets are the leading contributor to the category with $215 million in sales. But this category has also declined, falling 6.8% in dollar sales and 8.1% in unit sales. Sugarless varieties have fared better, according to IRI. Dollar sales have lifted 12.7% to $600 million with supermarkets posting $308 million, up in both dollar and unit sales.
While breath-freshening gums and mints may lack sales luster, retailers remain bullish on front-end merchandising magic to spur sales in the categories.
Recent entries into the gum category have been made with an oral care spin. These items go beyond freshening breath, touting the product's ability to strengthen, whiten and clean teeth, while also neutralizing plaque acids. Most of the brands offered use a like-branded toothpaste as a springboard into consumer acceptance. Because of these ties, these items are being currently positioned within the oral care sections of supermarkets, but some operators are also double-facing these oral care gums at the checkout to spur impulse sales.
SmithKline Beecham, Pittsburgh, Pa., used its Aquafresh brand to launch a whitening dental gum and new dental lozenges. Church & Dwight Co., Princeton, N.J., presents its Arm & Hammer brand with three flavor variations of its sugar free Dental Care gum, plus its Advance Breath Care item and a sugar free Dental Care gum for kids. Warner-Lambert, Morris Plaines, N.J., has its Trident Advantage teeth strengthening and whitening sugarless gum positioned within the dental care set and checkout aisles.
Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble and William W. Wrigley recently announced that they are developing a line of chewing gum under the Crest brand that will freshen breath and clean teeth. The companies will market two different versions of the line, one for the checkout lane and one for the oral care shelf set. "A new opportunity exists to drive shopper traffic to multiple locations within the stores," said a Wrigley representative.
It is just such merchandising strategies -- driving consumers to different areas of the store -- which retailers are looking to capitalize on. SN recently toured stores in the Seattle area to evaluate how checkout aisle real estate was being put to use and where the new oral care gums are being positioned. Here is what we found:
Seattle-area Safeway Stores continue to present kid-pleasing candy and gum selections at the front-end, showcasing these items in the lower regions of the display. Adult-oriented items are merchandised within the top areas of the display. Oral care gums are merchandised along with their toothpaste counterparts in the oral care sections in the units SN visited.
Kroger's Quality Food Co. reserves its front-end display space for breath-freshening gum and mints alongside magazines. In alternate aisles, film and batteries displace the gum and mint set. The units further merchandise gum on an end cap across the aisle from the customer service kiosk in the University Village store, for example. The merchandiser presents gum on a 10-deck, 2-foot fixture. On the same fixture, mints reside in another 10-deck, 2-foot area. Candy is given the same end-cap fixture treatment on a parallel aisle. Oral care gum is positioned within the dental care section. Here toothpaste and oral care gum are merchandised together, bolstering brand image.
Here, presentation falls into the more conventional merchandising of a checkout aisle, SN found. Gum, mints and candy are presented in every aisle with adult-oriented items positioned at the top of the display, while the items more child-centered are located on the bottom. Dental care gums are located within the mouthwash shelf set in a four-foot section using double deck spring-fed racks to optimize space and organizational convenience.
Most checkout aisles SN found were candy-free with adult-oriented breath mints and gum merchandised in single and bonus packs. The chain has also elected to position select dental care gum and mints in handy pocket packs at the front end. Here Warner-Lambert's Trident Advantage mints were found in a hard plastic pack holding 12 mints. Other oral care gums and mints were found grouped together on an eye-level shelf positioned within brand groupings of toothpaste and oral care items.
This natural foods marketer does not merchandise candy or gum at the front end. Instead candy is merchandised within the grocery aisles and the only gum within the store SN visited could be found in the dental care area. Here four SKUs offered items aimed at freshening breath naturally.
This independent seems to have taken "the more the merrier" approach when it comes to merchandising breath mints at the store's front-end checkout aisles. While traditional oral care gums can be found in five facings adjacent to the toothpaste set above mouthwash, mints and breath-freshening gum items are located at every checkout along with magazines. Here the full complement of mints is offered, including those with product attributes ranging from sugar-free to caffeinated and herbal energy-enhanced selections. While the representation is varied, full-flavored and sugar-free items enjoy the largest space.
This unit, part of the Penhollow group, combines its breath mints and gums in a single display at the front end. This leaves checkout aisle merchandising space available for imported chocolates, specialty sauces and housewares. Oral care gum is firmly entrenched in the toothpaste set with three facings.