It may be one of the most impulsive categories in forecourt stores but the mints and gum category hasn’t been without its share of problems. An influx of product development and lack of focus sent the category into decline for a while, but 2010 saw a return to growth.

According to Nielsen, the gum market is worth £136.7m in the convenience channel and is in growth by 4.3% (MAT value sales) with mint flavours driving sector growth up 5% in value. The mints market, meanwhile, is worth £76m in the convenience channel and is growing by 4.8%.

Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Cadbury UK, says: "Growth of the mints market is coming from the introduction of new brands, as well as top SKUs such as Trebor Extra Strong mints, which are currently seeing 4% growth following an increase in distribution in the convenience channel versus 2009.

"In gum specifically, recent years have seen a strong focus on NPD supported by heavy marketing investment. This support initially drove strong category growth but the number of new launches was not sustainable long term and more recently led to category decline. There is now a more conscious focus on a core range of high-performing products which has helped remove complexity at the fixture to aid shoppers in finding what they want more easily.

"Primarily, the key challenge is re-engaging with shoppers and consumers, reminding them of both the functional and emotional benefits that mints and gum can deliver and ensuring they become part of their day-to-day routine."

Wrigley is hoping to do just that with the relaunch of Extra Ice (see page 44) and a £11m marketing campaign for 2011. The Extra Ice range of sugar-free chewing gum is being relaunched to include microgranules and xylitol. It comes in three variants spearmint, peppermint and whitening. Rrp is 46p per stick pack. The marketing campaign will include TV advertising and ads targeting consumers at the point of their need for gum such as restaurants, cafés, on the move and at work. Duncan McCulloch, Wrigley sales director, says: "As well as boasting a great taste and refreshing flavour, 2010 has seen the Extra brand broaden its market appeal from being purely a breath-freshening product to offering consumers wider oral care benefits. We are confident that the launch of Extra Ice will reinforce this and add value to the category through trading up consumers and attracting new chewers. Wrigley research has already shown that consumers are prepared to pay up to 10p more for these products based purely on the packaging design.

"Our mindset has been shifted to driving the category because if Extra isn’t in growth, the category isn’t in growth," adds McCulloch. "This year we are talking to a much broader group of people. UK consumers chew less gum than European consumers so we have a huge opportunity."

Within the forecourt sector, larger pack formats are proving a big hit with shoppers on the move. Aimee Reason, brand manager for Mentos and Smint, says: "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.

"Larger pack formats such as Smint 100 sell well as its hygienic and convenient dispenser box is a great size for storing in the car," adds Reason.

"The new range of Mentos Gum bottles launched last year, with a rrp of £2, are also great as their resealable bottle enables them to be stored in the car and makes sure they are available for the next journey."

The brand’s Pure Fresh bottle packs, with a rrp of 99p, are also performing well in the UK. The Mentos Pure Fresh Pocket bottles contain green tea, which delivers intense freshness and appeals to consumers looking for high functionality. In addition, Perfetti Van Melle, which produces Mentos and Smint, is expanding its range with the launch of Mentos 3 Layers. The combination of three layers of chewing gum is said to deliver a longer-lasting flavour and "unique chewing experience". Mentos 3 layers is available in freshmint and strawberry-apple-raspberry. Rrp is 99p.

Stock it right

Effective merchandising is vital to ensure a successful mints and gum category, according to Louisa Rowntree, communications manager at Wrigley.

"Good merchandising can reap significant rewards by boosting sales, increasing footfall and ultimately increasing profit opportunities," she says.

"Customers want products in logical, easy-to-find locations so retailers should merchandise their stock by category in close proximity to complementary products. Ensuring consumers have a wide range of products to choose from is important, but it is stocking and displaying the most popular and well-supported brands that will put retailers on the path to success."

According to research by Wrigley, retailers can improve chewing gum sales by up to 12% by simply stocking the best-selling lines and supporting them with in-store point of sale. "This, combined with a correctly-merchandised display unit that remains well stocked at all times, will ensure retailers get the most out of their gum fixture, adds Rowntree. "The till point is a key area for merchandising, as customers are guaranteed to visit it, and it presents an opportunity for impulse purchases."

Cadbury’s Susan Nash agrees: "To make the most of their mints and gum range it is important for retailers to ensure that shoppers see these products in store. The category is not usually top of mind for shoppers and can be easily forgotten. However, we know from extensive research that when consumers see these products the majority of them go on to purchase, so retailers must do all they can to maximise the presence and location of mints and gum in their stores. For example, place within arm’s reach of the till where shoppers expect to find them, next to relevant cross-purchase products such as newspapers, magazines and lunch items. Following simple merchandising guidelines will also help retailers maximise sales. "Products should primarily be blocked by category but Cadbury shopper research also found that consumers navigate the fixture better if mints and gum are located together," says Nash.

"Double-facing will enhance visibility and attract the attention of shoppers to the fixture using brands that they instantly recognise.

"This increases the probability of a purchase, as independent shopper research shows that a brand’s pack stand out is very important."

Ensuring shelves are 100% stocked, 100% of the time is paramount.

"Most lost sales are due to out-of-stock occasions and with highly impulsive fast-selling items it is key to avoid empty shelves," says Nash. "Focusing on those high-velocity products that shoppers are looking for in-store is the key criteria to maximise sales."

Top 10 gum

1Extra Peppermint

2Extra Spearmint

3Extra Cool Breeze

4Extra Ice

5Airwaves Menthol & Eucalyptus

6Extra Peppermint Bottle pack

7Extra Spearmint Bottle pack

8Extra Peppermint Handy box

9Airwaves Blackmint

10Airwaves Cherry Menthol

Top 10 mints

1Trebor Extra Strong Mints

2Polo Original

3Trebor Softmints

4Trebor Softmints Spearmint

5Tic tac Fresh Mint

6Trebor Extra Strong Spearmint

7Extra Ice Peppermint

8Smint Mega Pack

9Extra Ice Spearmint

10Polo Spearmint

Source: Synovate Multiple Forecourts

52 w/e Nov 6, 2010

Top tips

To make the most of mints and gum category sales forecourt retailers should follow the following merchandising advice from Wrigley:

l Minimise out-of-stocks and maximise availability

l Keep the till point well merchandised and fully stocked at all times

l Well-supported and best-selling lines should be allocated adequate space