It’s a case of New Year, new flavours for chewing gum. Wrigley is adding evolution which is described as a sour-to-sweet citrus pear flavour to its 5 range. Extra is taking the fruity route with a new strawberry flavour while Perfetti Van Melle is adding skweez and ice crystal, among others, to its range. All these additions will no doubt add a bit of excitement to the category and catch the eye of impulse purchasers.

To help drive sales of new 5 evolution, it’s backed by a range of point-of-sale material that Wrigley says "will provide clear flavour differentiation and strong standout on-shelf".

The launch will also be supported by a promotion to encourage purchase among the target youth market. Wrigley has created a list of must-have items that it hopes will appeal to 5’s core audience. Consumers scan their pack using the smart phone Blippar app to gain access to the ’What’s Next?’ list. Users will then be given the chance to win ’What’s Next?’ fashion, art, music, gaming and film prizes. To drive repeat sales, these prizes will change on a regular basis.

Both the new flavour launch and the promotion will be supported by out-of-home advertising, sampling at universities, digital advertising and the 5 Gum UK Facebook page.

Meanwhile, with the launch of Extra strawberry, Wrigley is trying to entice new chewers into the category.

The company’s sales director, Duncan McCulloch, says: "The hugely successful launch of Extra ice last year enabled us to drive value and volume growth, by increasing chewing frequency and recruiting new chewers to the category. The launch of Extra strawberry will help continue to drive this growth, broadening the appeal of the Extra brand and driving penetration via an entry-level, fruit-flavour offering.

"We recommend stocking up now to avoid disappointment and help boost profits in the New Year."

Extra strawberry comes in 10-pellet single packs, with a recommended retail price of 40p.

Sticking with fruit, and Aimee Reason brand manager for Mentos and Smint at Perfetti Van Melle says Mentos 3 Layers chewing gum is a good addition to any gum fixture.

"The combination of three layers of chewing gum delivers a longer-lasting flavour and unique chewing experience. Mentos 3 layers has a textured gel middle layer which provides a unique eating experience versus existing gum on the market and the three layers of chewing gum build on top of each other to extend chewing time."

Mentos 3 Layers is currently available in strawberry-apple-raspberry and freshmint but a new blackberry-kiwi-strawberry variant joins the line-up from this month. All three have a recommended retail price of 99p.

The brand will be supported by national TV advertising in May.

Mentos 3 Layers is definitely considering stocking as, according to Synovate data, its strawberry-apple-raspberry flavour is now the best-selling fruit variant in the top three petrol forecourt retailers.

Meanwhile, Reason says that last year saw the successful introduction of the Mentos gum stick range in peppermint, spearmint and air action varieties. "This launch has added over £6m to the UK gum market (IRI data) proving the success of introducing greater consumer choice to the market."

In April, the range will be joined by a pure fresh flavour which contains green tea and Xylitol to help to purify the breath and deliver an "intense sensation of freshness in your mouth".

The gum has a recommended retail price of just 40p. "Around 60% of gum sales are through the impulse/convenience sector (IRI) where the average retail price of chewing gum is around 45p," explains Reason. "The gum stick range with its recommended retail price of 40p is therefore competitively priced for the impulse market."

But Perfetti Van Melle’s launches don’t stop there. Building on the success of its pure fresh pocket bottle range, the company is expanding its offering with the launch of four new bottles: freshmint, spearmint and two new innovations skweez and ice crystal. Skweez contains a 99% fruit filling which is said to deliver an "intense and natural fruit flavour" while ice crystal contains a filling of 99% Xylitol crystals which deliver "a cooling and fresh sensation".

"Bottles account for almost 30% of the top five petrol forecourt retailers value sales in gum and offer a real growth opportunity (Synovate)," says Reason.

Mints market

According to Nielsen, the mints market is worth over £133m and is growing by 3.6%. Kraft Foods is currently the market leader with a 39.6% value share.

Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Kraft Foods, says: "Growth in the mints market is coming from marketing investment behind brands, introduction of new variants, and growth from top SKUs such as Trebor Extra Strong mints which is currently worth over £9m in value sales in the impulse category alone."

Last summer Kraft launched the Trebor Mint Pot, which contains 50 Softmints.

"With its larger format, the new pot has been created to allow consumers to easily access the mints, making it perfect for sharing and for enjoying at work," says Nash. "It is also ideal for consumers who are travelling, such as commuters wanting mints for fresh breath in the morning and for those on long journeys, looking to enjoy several mints during the trip. Therefore, the Trebor Mint Pot will help to maximise on-the-go sales for retailers, as this is when a significant amount of mints are consumed."

The large pot format is also something that Perfetti Van Melle offers. "Inevitably purchases of mint and chewing gum made in petrol forecourts are often consumed in the car and often left there for future journeys. Therefore larger packs and convenient packaging formats that are resealable and suitable to be left in the car for later use often sell well in petrol forecourts," adds Reason.

"Our Smint 100 sells well as its hygienic and convenient dispenser box is a great size for storing in the car and makes sure they are available for the next journey. Smint 100 is currently one of the fastest-growing mint products within the top five petrol retailers (Synovate) and the Smint brand is growing 10% in value year-on-year within total impulse (IRI)."

From next month, Smint will be giving consumers the chance to win an iPad every day. Those who buy promotional packs of mint, 2in1 raspberry lemon, spearmint and mint 100 can text their unique pack code to be entered into a daily prize draw. Packs will be available through to May with daily prize draws taking place in March, April and May.

Know your customers

Meanwhile, Graham Walker, Nestlé UK trade communications manager reminds retailers not to forget who their customers are, as mint and gum shoppers are very different. "The average age of a mint consumer is 45 years 10 years older than the gum consumer so think about your customer base and stock accordingly (Him data)."

Polo, which has been around since 1948, is still a firm favourite with many consumers so much so that the brand is now worth £32m in the UK up 2% (IRI). One of the fastest-growing mint products in the UK market is Mentos mint roll, which is outperforming the mint category and many of its long-established competitors, growing 38% in value year-on-year.

"As purchases of mint and gum are usually made on impulse, it is important to display them in prominent positions close to the check-out, says Reason. "Retailers should ensure it is quick and easy for consumers to find what they are looking for, therefore they should merchandise all mint products on one part of the shelf and all gum products on another.

"Prominent and enticing displays are key to capitalising on the impulsive nature of the shopper.

"However, recent research shows that 56% of consumers only go to petrol stations just to buy sweets, gum or mints (Bezier consumer research for Perfetti Van Melle). In fact, the same research highlighted that a wide range and good organisation on-shelf are two of the most important factors to consumers when they’re considering confectionery purchases.

"It is therefore important that retailers offer a good choice of brands that appeal to a wide variety of consumers.

"One final trend is less frequent trips to the petrol pumps. With increasing petrol prices consumers are filling up less frequently which means there are fewer opportunities to maximise impulse purchases of mint and gum. It is therefore even more critical for retailers to maximise impulse purchases of mints and gum."

Price-marked chews

Price-marking is hitting the gum category with the launch of a range of Wrigley price-marked packs.

Available from cash and carries from April, Wrigley will launch £1 price-marked packs (PMPs) of handy boxes of Extra peppermint and spearmint.

Wrigley sales director, Duncan McCulloch, comments: "The visible PMPs reassure shoppers they are getting the best value -for-money from their local stores, as well as offering retailers with an incremental chance to boost sales. We anticipate the new packs will be an instant hit with consumers."

Retailer View

Douglas Fleming, South Inch Filling Station, Perth

"We have a Wrigley stand right next to the till. I don’t begrudge the space as chewing gum sells well all year round. We stock the new flavours when they come in but the traditional flavours sell best. Mints are also a steady seller Trebor Extra Strong and Polo sell well."