Everyone knows that chewing gum tastes great and minty gums freshen your breath, but it seems there’s much more to it than that.

Over the past few years, the Wrigley Science Institute has conducted research into the benefits of chewing gum for stress relief and increased alertness, focus and concentration.

According to Wrigley’s US website, professional athletes and coaches chew gum to help them "stay in the game". Since World War I, the US Armed Forces have supplied troops with gum. And in schools, some teachers are reversing policy and encouraging students to chew during tests to help increase their alertness and concentration.

Meanwhile in the UK, Wrigley’s Extra, the official chewing gum of the Premier League, has launched an Extra 90+ campaign, which urges nervous footie fans to ’chew through the minutes that matter’.

The brand takes over the digital perimeter boards and TV screens at Premier League matches when the clock reaches 90 minutes. And as part of the initiative, Wrigley’s is donating £1,000 to charity Football Aid for each goal scored in extra time, up to a maximum of £60,000.

The marketing push also includes a microsite hosted by The Sun, which enables fans to relive famous ’last gasp’ winners. In addition, fans get the chance to win prizes at the website. These include the chance to play alongside a footballing legend. There is also support on TalkSport.

Campaign ambassador Teddy Sheringham, says: "As players, we’re always told to play through to the final whistle as concentration and focus are key at this time. For fans it’s often the most nail-biting part of the match, yet many leave the ground and miss out on these historical moments. If the tension is too much, why not ’chew through it’ using gum instead of finger nails to enjoy those minutes that matter. It’s what most of the team managers do."

Alexandra MacHutchon, corporate communications at Wrigley, adds: "Many fans and managers have a pack of chewing gum in their pockets at a game to help them ’chew through’ the tense minutes and we’d strongly advise retailers not to wait till the last minute and always make sure their displays are fully stocked with Wrigley’s Extra, regularly chewed by over 12 million adults."

Increasing alertness and concentration is obviously paramount to drivers, which is probably one of the reasons why Wrigley has chosen forecourts and motorway service areas for its latest campaign for Airwaves.

Focusing on Airwaves green mint, the campaign includes branded petrol-pump nozzles, six-sheet advertising, washroom posters, and in-store shelf barkers and shelf wobblers in selected forecourts and motorway services nationwide through to April.

Airwaves green mint was launched last summer to tap into the growing popularity of spearmint flavour chewing gum. Airwaves, worth £30.4m according to AC Nielsen data, is the second largest chewing gum brand with an 11.5% value share of the category.

As well as the forecourt advertising, Airwaves is supported via several sponsorship deals. The brand is the sponsor of the Airwaves Yamaha British Superbike team, which is supported by PR and sampling, and is part of the wider ’Airwaves Pro’ consumer engagement programme. It is also the official chewing gum sponsor of the World Rally Championship, and sponsor of the only British driver, 21-year-old Matthew Wilson of the Stobart Team. Finally, Airwaves also sponsors the Plymouth Raiders, who compete in the British Basketball league.

Over at Cadbury, Trident is currently backed by a nationwide poster campaign on sites close to stores to help drive consumer awareness and purchase of Soft peppermint and Soft spearmint.

The campaign has fun visuals which highlight the longer lasting flavour of the gum. It also includes nationwide sampling of both varieties to encourage consumers to taste it for themselves.

Kate Harding, trade communications manager at Cadbury, comments: "Trident has gained a strong foothold in the UK market and now has a 10% market share. Fruit gum has achieved growth of 37% (AC Nielsen) and Trident has a 61% share of the fruit gum market. With this new campaign we are hoping to create the Trident effect within mint gum.

"TNS data shows that Trident has brought two million new users to the gum category since its launch and we are committed to sustaining the positive impact its introduction has made.

"Mint is hugely important within the gum category and we want to ensure that consumers are not only fully aware of our range, but also try for themselves the longer lasting flavour benefits that Trident mint gum offers.

"We value our customers and by placing the eye-catching outdoor advertising close to stores we aim to help drive consumers inside and in turn, drive sales for retailers."

Chewing gum holds a special place in most forecourts and convenience stores - because more often than not it sits right next to the till.

Wrigley has worked hard developing merchandising units to maintain this position.

Its latest is called the CMU 21, which has been designed for the 21st century - offering retailers all the characteristics of the original format in a sleek new package.

Wrigley says its till point displays deliver better chewing gum sales and profit for retailers than other display solutions available. In three independently run tests, stores with a Wrigley display delivered chewing gum category sales on average 5.2% greater than those with a non-Wrigley display and the tests revealed consumers are 67% more likely to buy gum from a Wrigley display than a non-Wrigley one.

== Minty big stronger ==

In mints, Trebor is the clear market leader with a 54% market share (AC Nielsen figures). Trebor Extra Strong peppermint single is the best-selling mint in the UK followed by Trebor Softmints peppermint single, and Trebor Softmints spearmint single.

Cadbury’s Harding comments: "With more people buying into Trebor mints than any other mint brand, shoppers are buying Trebor an average of 10 times a year. Consumers are also more loyal to Trebor than any other mint brand. Due to this high level of loyalty, when the Trebor brand grows the whole mint category grows, so retailers should consider including the UK’s number-one selling mint at their till point."

The big news in mints however is the launch of Extra Ice Mints in premium packaging, namely a tin.

The stylish tins contains 33 mouth-freshening sugar-free mints. They come in peppermint and spearmint flavours and rrp is 97p.

The product performed particularly well in trials with 83% of users saying the new packaging made them more likely to purchase. Research also found that younger consumers who do not traditionally buy mints loved the new product.

The launch is supported by an extensive marketing campaign that includes TV advertising through the sponsorship of Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, consumer PR, pos support and extensive sampling.

Fox’s Confectionery’s big success story is XXX Mints. According to IRI figures (52 weeks ending Dec 27, 2008), the brand is worth £4.1m and is significantly outperforming the market with 34.1% year-on-year value growth.

Jane James, head of marketing at Fox’s, puts much of XXX’s success down to its taste as she says there is a trend towards stronger, more intense mint flavours.

"XXX Mints is the strongest extra strong mint on the market and offers a powerful mint hit, which appeals to a broad audience," she says.

Fox’s Glacier Mints too is outperforming the market. It is worth £14.1m, with 10.7% value growth.

Glacier Mints are sold in hanging bags, with the 170g bag price-marked at 99p specifically for the impulse sector.

Says James: "Our research shows that 55% of confectionery purchasers make their mind up in the shop and the great value that this price-marked bag offers adds yet another tempting incentive to purchase Glacier sweets".

Meanwhile Nestlé is investing nearly £1m in marketing support for Polo this year. Activity includes a new six-sheet poster campaign across 3,800 sites, consumer sampling and new point-of-sale - the Polo Pod, which is available for small shop retailers.

Nestlé UK trade communications manager Graham Walker reckons the Pod gives "excellent visibility and display possibilities to retailers".

Finally, one mint brand to watch is Perfetti Van Melle’s Mentos which, according to IRI data, saw sales growth of 38% in the UK last year making it the fastest-growing mint in the market.

Mentos was launched into the UK just over three years ago. The sweets are available in mint, fruit, strawberry fresh and fresh cola varieties. Mint and fruit are the most popular flavours. Mentos chewing gum is also available, in fresh mint, spearmint and juice burst flavours.

The target audience is young adults, male and female, aged 16-34.

The brand will be backed by national TV advertising in May and October. Further support will come from an interactive sampling campaign which aims to bring the ads to life.

Consumers will have the chance to sample the confectionery and win on-the-spot prizes.

Another of Perfetti Van Melle’s brands is Smint, which continues to sell well in the sector. A new ’xtra strong’ variety is being added this year.


=== Top 10 chewing gum brands ===

1. Extra

2. Airwaves

3. Orbit Complete

4. Trident

5. Hubba Bubba

6. Wrigley Juicy Fruit

7. Wrigley Doublemint

8. Wrigley Spearmint

9. Jawbreaker

10. Bubbaloo

Source: AC Nielsen 12 w/e 17/01/09