The gum-and-mint industry, spearheaded by its intense flavors, is doing well and retailers are finding new ways to market these items to consumers at checkout stands and on store shelves.
Information Resources Inc., Chicago, reported major sales increases in mints and gum for the total food, drug and mass merchant level during the 52-week period ended July 18, 1999. Extra Strength breath mints were up 7.3% in the total food, mass and drug channels and saw sales reach $309 million. Although Tic-Tac, the No. 1 breath mint with $78.5 million in sales, saw a 0.8% decrease from the previous period, Altoids breath fresheners were up 38% to $72 million in sales for second place.
Breathsavers (down 4.1% to $68 million), Certs breath fresheners (down 15.5% to $24 million), and extra- flavor Certs (down 43.9% to $5 million) did not perform well, but Certs Cool Mint Drops (up 20.3% to $28.5 million), Certs Powerful Mints (up 44.2% to $16 million) and Smint breath fresheners (up 74.7% to $4 million) helped move the category.
Regular and sugarless gum sales were all over the board, according to IRI data. During the same 52-week period, regular gum sales were down 5.5% while sugarless gum was up 5.3%. The gum industry within the total FDM categories generated $1 billion, with $526 million from regular and $483 million from sugarless.
The Snack Food Association in Alexandria, Va., is seeing more and more companies release intense gum flavors. The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. (Winterfresh, Wrigley's Spearmint, Doublemint and Extra gum brands), Chicago, is trying to reach baby boomers by offering an upscale brand called Everest Powerful Mint Gum, a name that comes through its Amurol Confections Co. unit. Warner Lambert (Dentyne, Trident and Certs), Morris Plains, N.J., is trying to appeal to younger children with Trident for Kids, but also appeals to parents with its sugarless gum for children.
The National Confectioners Association has noted that many manufacturers are now entering the extra-strength breath-mint category because of impressive sales at the retail level. It notices a trend among young adults. "Some of the most innovative packaging in the confectionery category has been introduced within this mint category," said Jim Corcoran, director of trade relations at the NCA. "Reporters have labeled it a fashion statement among young adults to see what type of mint container one is carrying." Retailers across the board have been seeing these items take off in their supermarkets. Whether it's a fashion statement or just a confectionery trend within the industry, retailers are noticing. One chain seeing this growth in the category is Schnuck Markets, St. Louis. According to Keith Shannon, category manager at Schnuck, the category is exploding. "I haven't run any sales data lately, but they've recently done very well for us and they continue to do well," said Shannon. "The intense gums and the intense breath mints are what push the category. Those are the hot items right now."
Shannon pointed out that Schnuck primarily sells its intense mints and gums as an impulse item at the checkout stand, which drives front-end sales. "We have a few stockkeeping units of intense mints and gums in the gondola within the aisles, but they're mostly found at the checkout," Shannon added.
Another chain that is witnessing a spurt of growth is Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind. According to Sheila Kennedy, candy buyer at Martin's, intense gums and mints are pushing the category. "These items are doing quite well and are showing major growth," said Kennedy.
The question as to why an item does well is always present, and with intense mints and gums a variety of things can boost sales. Kennedy pointed out that flavor is the main reason they do well, but advertising also helps. "It could also be the packaging. Ice Breakers do well with their packaging, so I think that might be a reason, " she said. According to Kennedy, the intense mints and gums are found mostly at the checkout at Martin's, but are also carried in the grocery aisles.
Rick Hagan, sales manager at Camellia Foods, Norfolk, Va., credits the arrival of new items to the category. "Sales have definitely picked up with the new items that companies are introducing," said Hagan. "Between Mentos new Cool Chews, Wrigley's Eclipse, and Adams coming out with a breath-mint chewing gum, the growth is a result from new items in the category."
Location of these items is concentrated on the front end at Camellia stores. Dump-in bins of the 25-cent Wrigley gums are featured as well as three-pack sales with Tic-Tac. "We're looking at a display promotion with Mentos in November so we can get some of that product on the floor as well as the checkouts," added Hagan.
A source at Lunds Food Holdings, Edina, Minn., who wished not to be identified due to a current unfamiliarity with the category, said manufacturers are trying to get into intense mints and gums. "Everyone has been jumping on the bandwagon after Altoids came out and even Altoids are doing very well," said the source at the 19-store chain. "Intense mints are doing very well. Same in respect with the intense gum area. Those items are driving the category."
According to the source, as at most chains, those items are found at the checkout. "We have a good variety at the checkout and we view them as a definite impulse item. They're located there right now and there's a possibility that we may put them in a high-impulse area other than the checkout. Right now that's where we keep them."
Rich Ehrhart, category manager at Fleming's York division, York, Pa., is seeing a lot done with intense mints, but not a whole lot with gum. "Power mints are where it's going," said Ehrhart. "All that hard stuff seems to be where the category is going. There's really not a lot going on with stick gum. Everyone is going hardcore with mints."
According to Ehrhart, between Wrigley's Adams, Nabisco and Nestle, even Mentos in the small case, manufacturers are focused on introducing more of these intense flavor brands. These brands are fueling the industry, he said, and mints are up due to all the new flavors being marketed. "Dentyne has a mint and Breath Savers Power Mints in the little cases do very well. Mentos is the only chewy power mint. Wrigley's just shipped a mint in September called Eclipse. All that hard stuff that comes out helps drive sales and new items will further the growth."
Within the stores that Ehrhart supplies, most of the displays for these items are countertop unit displays. Fleming will put up manufacturer shipper displays, but only if they're sent. Hanging displays are also used. "I've seen a fair amount of advertising on television and that helps with consumers also," added Ehrhart.
"Kids' and the sour candy have really taken off. There's phenomenal growth and this item can cater to adults," said Ehrhart. "Most mints are basic and do the job. I think there's a demand for a more intense flavor and people want the power. I've tried them and I wouldn't think it would work, but it does."