When BP/M&S approach a supplier wanting to stock their product, you know it must be a good one. And that’s exactly what happened with Peppersmith the mint and gum company started by two ex-Innocent Drinks employees. As a result, BP is now selling Peppersmith’s 100% xylitol mints and gum in 214 of its M&S stores.

And it’s the xylitol that’s the key word here as it makes Peppersmith’s range stand out from the crowd. Here’s the science bit: xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alternative that helps reduce plaque. Tooth decay starts with the harmful bacteria in the mouth which form plaque. All the sugary food we eat give these bacteria the energy to multiply and then produce acid which can cause decay. But when these bacteria absorb xylitol they can’t produce acids and can’t multiply plus the xylitol helps prevent the bacteria sticking to your teeth.

So while some 90% of gum on sale in the UK market is sugar free and many of it is promoted for its dental credentials (chewing the gum promotes the production of saliva which helps neutralise acids), Peppersmith takes this one step further by using xylitol to kill the bacteria. You can see why Peppersmith products are therefore described as ’on-the-go oral care’ and are accredited by the British Dental Health Foundation.

The only downside is that xylitol is expensive 10 times more expensive than sugar so the Peppersmith mints have an rrp of £1.49 and the gum £1.29. But the company is confident that once people understand that the products are good for their teeth and are actually oral care products, they will be willing to pay. To get this message across, Peppersmith is working closely with dentists and hygienists via sampling and leaflets to cash in on the shift towards preventative dentistry, rather than the old-fashioned ’drill and fill’ approach.

"Sugar has taken a battering in the media and retailers are looking for alternative products to put by their tills. Our mints and gum are not only sugar-free but are actually proven to reduce plaque so they’re perfect for retailers who want to stock healthy impulse products and take advantage of the rise in oral care spend," says Mike Stevens, commercial director for Peppersmith.

The company recommends that retailers stock both the mints and gum because people like the choice and sales are evenly split. The best-selling flavour is peppermint, both in the mints and the gum, but there is also a spearmint gum as well as eucalyptus & peppermint and Sicilian lemon & peppermint mints.

Eat, Drink, Chew

Wrigley’s commitment to looking after the nation’s teeth continues with its ’Eat, Drink, Chew’ campaign for Extra. The company says such activity enables Extra, the UK’s number one gum (Nielsen), to continue to offer a simple on-the-go solution to help keep teeth clean and healthy as part of a daily oral care routine.

"Chewing sugar-free gum such as Extra is a great way to help maintain clean, healthy teeth and to remove any lingering food that could potentially damage your smile. In fact, 95% of Wrigley’s gum brands are sugar free, and Extra is accredited by the British Dental Health Foundation," explains Julio Guijarro, Wrigley UK and Ireland marketing manager.

The company recently announced that some of the most popular products in the Extra portfolio, including peppermint, spearmint and cool breeze, have been reformulated to provide consumers with the "best taste ever". This reformulation is especially good news when you consider recent Mintel research, which found the main barrier to consumers not chewing gum was that the flavour did not last long enough. Complementing the reformulations is the introduction of a new pack design, rolling out across the entire Extra range.

The changes were communicated to consumers via the recent National Smile Month activity and in total Extra is backed by a £15m marketing investment package this year, which includes 40 weeks of TV advertising.

The Extra range was strengthened earlier this year when Wrigley incorporated Orbit into it and launched two soft-chew flavours strawberry and bubblegum. And in June, Wrigley brought back its Extra Ice spearmint flavour with a new improved taste and distinctive packaging design. Designed to capitalise on the popularity of the spearmint flavour within the gum category, the reformulated product features improved cooling and helps keep teeth clean "in a way that consumers can feel".

New to the Airwaves line-up is Extreme, which is described as offering consumers an ’extra strong menthol kick and a long-lasting, refreshing taste experience’.

The launch is designed to drive incremental sales for the brand, which has been consistently growing for the past three years. Worth over £37m, Airwaves is currently growing at 4.7% (Nielsen), which is more than twice as fast as the gum category as a whole.

The new variant will be supported by print, online and in-store activation, as well as a significant TV investment which will see the brand on air for 24 weeks in 2015.

When it comes to formats, bottles are seeing increasing success, especially in forecourts because they are so handy to have in the car. Wrigley says its 46-pellet bottle is ideal for car or desk and is a great oral care solution for those who graze frequently throughout the day.

And Mark Roberts, trade marketing manager at Perfetti Van Melle (PVM), believes the current growth in the chewing gum market is being driven almost exclusively by the bottle format.

Choosing mints

While Mintel’s research found that the main barrier to chewing gum was that the flavour didn’t last long enough, other barriers included simply that people prefer mints or they were worried that chewing gum could be seen as bad manners.

This means that mints are still incredibly popular. Indeed when Mintel quizzed 2,000 consumers last September about which types of sugar confectionery they had eaten in the past six months, mints came out top, consumed by 57% of them.

Nielsen figures put the mints market as worth £146.6m, with Mondelez International holding the largest market share at just over 38%.

Trebor, the number one mint brand according to Nielsen, has a new look that will make its debut on packs this month.

The new design aims to provide greater standout for all packs within the range.

The brand’s red star mark has become the heart of the new look, coupled with more use of white to convey a feeling of ’light minty freshness’, however the colours associated with the flavours peppermint green and spearmint blue remained untouched.

Elena Mallo, senior brand manager for Trebor, says: "Trebor is a true British icon with £56m of value sales and a 39% share of the market and a heritage stretching almost a century.

"The striking, impactful new packaging will have great standout on shelf and will encourage shoppers to pick up a pack of Trebor by highlighting our identity as a boldly British brand."

Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International, adds: "There is a range of core products across the Trebor brand that we would recommend to forecourt retailers. Within the mints and gum category these are Trebor Extra Strong peppermint, Trebor Softmints peppermint and Trebor Softmints spearmint, which are the number one, third and fourth-selling mints respectively (Nielsen).

"Seventy per cent of spend comes from shoppers who only buy one mint variant, and less than 10% of Trebor shoppers purchase both flavours, showing there is extremely low crossover, so stocking all three varieties is recommended to help maximise sales."

Nash continues: "To make the most of mints and gum, it is important for retailers to ensure that shoppers see these products in-store. These are not usually top of mind for shoppers when entering a store and can be easily forgotten."

Meanwhile, PVM reports strong sales of its Mentos mints in forecourts. The product was recently made available in a £1 price-marked pack. The brand was promoted via a successful E4 sponsorship campaign last year and is set to return to TV screens later this year.

PVM’s mini mint Smint can currently be found in three limited-edition Fresh to Impress packs. Consumers were invited to design a cover for the packs last year and the three winning designs now feature across 300,000 packs. The removable covers have a 3D effect designed to give better shelf stand out as well as more appeal to the brand’s target audience of young professionals.

Finally, Big Bear Confectionery is backing its XXX Mints and Fox’s Glacier Mints with a £500,000 marketing campaign. Ross Stanley, head of trade marketing at Big Bear, says: "We still enjoy very strong brand recognition, particularly from consumers who remember the TV advertising for Fox’s Glacier Mints with the fox and bear."

High Five with wrigley

By optimising your gum sales you will grow total front-of-store profits.
Gum is a significant front-of-store margin provider. At recommended retail price, Wrigley’s gum typically delivers over 30% profit significantly higher than other products.

50% of shoppers who see gum will buy it, and nine out of 10 shoppers who interact with it will buy it.
These are the highest conversion rates across all front-of-store segments.
Make your gum range visible to shoppers and they will buy it 62% of single-gum purchases are unplanned.
Almost half of shoppers chew gum weekly and expect to find gum at the front of store.
Ranging gum at the front of store ensures your shoppers’ ’must have’ product is available.

Gum displays are highly space-efficient and are easily merchandised.
At a typical counter, a standard impulse gum display delivers 570 individual packs.

Sugar-free gum provides shoppers with a guilt-free healthy option.
Extra, the nation’s favourite brand, is accredited by the British Dental Health Foundation.

acts and figures

Chewing gum is used by 37% of people but of those who do use it, 28% chew it most days.
The total gum category is currently worth £285m and is in 1.3% value sales growth year-on-year.
Worth £268m, Wrigley’s gum portfolio is performing ahead of the total gum market at 2.6%. This growth is being driven by the trend towards sugar-free gum and Wrigley expects this to continue as chewers seek out a healthy addition to their day-to-day oral care routine.
Worth £209m, up 4.4%, Extra is the driving force behind the gum category, which is growing in volume and value sales.
Extra’s core flavours, peppermint and spearmint are the top-performing variants and are worth over £132m.
Within Wrigley, growth continues to be led by Extra White at +30%.
Source: Mintel/Nielsen