If you haven’t updated your chewing gum offer lately, you could be missing out on one of the fastest-growing areas of forecourt sales. That’s the message from the two main chewing gum manufacturers who are churning out new and innovative products aimed at capturing consumers’ imagination.

This fast-changing sector is enjoying good growth at the moment - according to AC Nielsen, the UK chewing gum category is worth £277.8m, and chewing gum sales were up by 16.1% in 2007.

Wrigley, the biggest player in the market, saw sales from new product development (NPD) reach £44.3m last year, equal to 59.3% of total chewing gum NPD sales in 2007.

While in previous years the category was driven by functional products and mint flavours that served as mouth fresheners, more recently it has been transformed by new flavours and types of gum. According to Cadbury Trebor Bassett (CTB), which launched Trident just over a year ago, there are three main trends driving the gum category: health, convenience and treating.

Kate Harding, trade communications manager at CTB, says: "As Trident brings more fun back into the category and offers more exciting flavours with bright and colourful packaging, it brings gum into mainstream confectionery and acts as a treat.

"With its sugar-free credentials, Trident is like a guilt-free sweet and the handy pack formats mean it is both a fresh and convenient product. Trident Splash comes in a convenient blister pack to maximise freshness and improve product protection and dispensing. Trident Soft is packed in a handy, re-sealable flip-open envelope pack for easy access. Each piece of Trident Soft is individually wrapped for freshness and convenient disposal."

According to Harding, gum is a category driven by innovation - in other countries, the top 10 gum SKUs regularly change, and this has been seen in the UK since the launch of Trident. She adds: "There is definitely room for further innovation as consumption of gum in the UK is still lower than other countries, and consumers are responsive to new flavours and formats. Trident has not only attracted two million new users to the gum category, but has also encouraged existing users to buy more frequently. Trident has been the primary driver of both frequency and new user growth, with 33% of Trident buyers being new to gum. With the category now enjoying growth of 16% in 2008, CTB is planning to invigorate the market even further."

On the product side, Trident has launched three new flavours for 2008: Trident Splash apple & apricot, Trident Soft strawberry smoothie, and Trident Soft spearmint.

Meanwhile, over at Wrigley, there is also enthusiasm about the category, with the company describing it as "a star performer within confectionery" which is growing at a substantial rate - sales of the Wrigley range are growing at 3.9%. According to the Wrigley Company, it has a 88.6% share of the total gum category - and it says its nearest competitor accounts for just 7.6%. In addition, in the past year the Wrigley Extra brand share has increased by 9%, and Orbit has seen a volume growth of 5.9%.

Wrigley also believes innovation is key to ensuring constant growth in the chewing category, and 36% of the company’s sales come from products less than five years old. The latest products from Wrigley are part of the Extra brand, which is worth a whopping £184m in the UK. The company says its research has revealed that a growing number of consumers are looking for products and experiences that stimulate new sensations and the Extra Fusion range, launched last June, is designed to fill this gap between enjoyment and freshening.

Extra Fusion comes in two formats: spearmint with a twist of melon, and peppermint with a twist of berry in blister packs; and raspberry, blackcurrant & grapefruit and orange, pineapple & banana flavour in tabs.

Alexandra MacHutchon, communications manager at Wrigley, comments, "We are extremely pleased with Extra Fusion, which is an exciting twist to the Extra brand. Forecourts should stock up to ensure they cash in on this exciting profit opportunity."

Wrigley’s marketing campaign includes the Wrigley Extra partnership with the Premier League - according to Wrigley, 60% of the 11m people who chew Extra are football fans.

Meanwhile, Wrigley is said to be launching two new Extra and Orbit Complete flavours in the near future.

And it’s not just the manufacturers who think chewing gum is a good part of a retailer’s business. According to Him’s Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP) 2007, 2% of shoppers at forecourts are buying chewing gum (with 2% buying mints).

In addition, the research showed that customers who bought chewing gum and mints were on a ’snack and drink mission’ - making this the perfect opportunity for cross promotion, such as ’buy a sandwich, crisps, drink, mints or chewing gum and get a discount’.

According to Him, mints and chewing gum shoppers also buy lottery tickets, cigarettes and newspapers, so again there are lots of opportunities for cross promotions.

The UK mints market is worth £60.6m in retail sales, and Trebor is the main player in this category - with a 47% share, according to AC Nielsen. Trebor Softmints continues to be one of the UK’s favourite mint brands, worth £30.6m, while Trebor Extra Strong is worth £27.4m, and according to CTB is the fastest-selling SKU in the UK mint category (and the fourth in gum and mints). Meanwhile, Trebor Softmint peppermint is the second fastest-selling SKU in mints.

Polo is another obvious impulse offering for forecourts. And despite figures from AC Nielsen showing that the mint market in the forecourt sector was down by 9.6% last year, Polo continues to grow. As a brand it’s worth £14.2m in the convenience and independent channel, with its market share increasing 3% to 23% last year.

Fox’s Confectionery has also been investing in the mint sector with advertising campaigns for its Fox’s Glacier Mints. And the company says it is seeing success with products aimed at the convenience sector. According to the company, its £2m TV advertising campaign for the Fox’s Glacier range, which launched in October, contributed to a 10.2% uplift in sales for Glacier Mints, 13.7% for Glacier Fruits and 26.9% for Glacier Dark, bringing the market value of the Glacier brand to £12.9m. Sales for Fox’s Glacier Mints are already looking promising at the start of 2008 and are expected to increase further.

Another successful addition to the range in 2007 was the 99p 170g bag, which Fox’s says was introduced to support the convenience sector and offer customers a premium product for a one coin purchase. Sales of the bag have already hit £1m.

Tracey Mattock, marketing manager at Fox’s Confectionery, says: "The Fox’s Glacier brand has seen significant growth in the past three years bolstered by a focused marketing campaign, distribution drive and range development." Fox’s XXX Extra Strong Mints are also proving popular, showing year-on-year growth of 36.4% with distribution growing over 20% in just six months. The company expects to see further growth in 2008 as the trend for stronger and more intense flavours continues. A dedicated PR campaign, which will see both sampling and press activity, is also planned to heighten brand demand.

Mattock adds: "Moving forward, NPD and innovative marketing campaigns for both Glacier and XXX Extra Strong Mints are at the forefront of our minds for 2008."


=== Merchandising ===

? Go for a logical, focused and strategic approach to merchandising by offering attractive new products.

? Removing the slower sellers will help customers select the products they require and ensure valuable space is not wasted.

? Minimise out-of-stocks and maximise availability by keeping the till point well merchandised and fully stocked at all times. The till point is the one place in a store that every customer visits, so it should be kept clean and clutter free.

? Create a daily schedule for cleaning and merchandising the till point and make this part of someone’s job role.

? Well-supported new products should be made available early to maximise the excitement value.

? Ask the sales representative for the latest news on the category and product updates. Log onto [http://www.tridentgum.co.uk] and [http://www.wrigley-trade.co.uk] for more