You’ll never see them on a shopping list, but mints and gums rack up a combined £249m-worth of sales within the convenience sector. With their privileged position at till points across the UK, they are hugely impulse-driven products. In fact, research carried out by Wrigley shows that chewing gum is the most impulsively bought product in store three times more likely to be purchased than either confectionery or snack foods.

The mint market within convenience is valued at £98m and gum is worth a whopping £151m (IRI, convenience channel, value sales, 52 weeks ending May 21, 2011).

On the minty side of the market, where there is generally more demand for function, brands are determined to send consumers clear messages. “Primarily, the key challenge is re-engaging with shoppers and consumers, reminding them of both the functional and emotional benefits that mints and gums can deliver,” says Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Kraft, which owns Cadbury.


That’s how many people in the UK regularly chew gum, according to Wrigley. On average, these consumers chew 125 pieces of gum a year

Demand for ‘does what it says on the tin’ messaging could well explain the popularity of Trebor gum. The product carries its mint counterpart’s well-established ‘extra strong’ tag on-pack and it hasn’t looked back since making a successful transition into the gum category in late 2009. The gum is now worth £2.4m within managed impulse, up 4% year on year.

Market leader Wrigley has also opted for a focused message on the function of Extra gum, with the return of its Food Creatures campaign earlier this year. The initiative highlights how chewing sugar-free gum helps to neutralise plaque acid and keep teeth clean. The multi-million pound campaign was far reaching appearing on TV, as well as coffee cup sleeves and curry lids. And the investment is clearly paying off with sales up 3% to £47.7m in managed impulse.

The adverts also introduced consumers to the brand’s new Ice range, which goes one step further on the dental health front. Extra Ice contains xylitol sweetener, which actually prevents plaque formation. As a result, the range is accredited by the British Dental Health Foundation.

Wrigley is not alone in providing dental benefits. Perfetti Van Melle’s Smint mints also contain xylitol and the benefits are conveyed on-pack via a Toothfriendly International endorsement.

Another brand communicating oral care benefits is Peppersmith, which boasts that all of its products’ sweeteners comprise 100% xylitol. The firm made its debut into the gum market last year with Peppermint and Spearmint variants and has just launched Peppermint mints. However, managing director Dan Shrimpton claims that the association between mints and oral care is a difficult message to convey, because many mints contain sugar, even when their co-branded gums do not. “It’s confusing for consumers when companies make a range of products under the same brand where some products are good for your teeth and some are bad,” he says.

Top tips

Get in mint condition 
Be prepared for key purchase times in the day. Not only do consumers tend to eat mints and gums on the go, this is also how they purchase them, with the vast majority describing their purchasing behaviour as impulsive. Convenience retailers are therefore the perfect place to buy mints and chewing gum, and should always make sure their displays are fully stocked during key peak purchasing times 

Maximise impulse purchases. Display them in high footfall and prominent positions close to the checkout. 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 

Focus on a core range of best-sellers and add incremental sales through new product lines to keep your range refreshed 

Price products clearly. If you don’t do this, then some consumers can be put off making a purchase. 
Source: Perfetti Van Melle

“Because people have been educated about gum they think of it as being linked with dental health, but the same messaging hasn’t been there for mints. Mints and gums are very similar in terms of benefits both provide freshness but there’s an opportunity for mints to offer the same dental health benefits as gums.”

Education is also the name of the game with Wrigley’s Airwaves. The brand’s forecourt campaign features an illustration of ‘The Head’ in a bid to explain to consumers how chewing Airwaves can stimulate and refresh the mind. Airwaves brand manager Tia Ward says: “Driving is a key usage occasion for chewing gum users, so it was a natural fit for us to amplify this by giving the brand maximum exposure in forecourts.”

Trebor has also tapped into maximising usage occasions in order to grow sales. Its new Mint Pot contains 50 Softmints, and is suited to commuters wanting to stock up on mints for fresh breath in the morning and for those on car journeys.

Taking mint-specific and gum-specific consumption occasions into consideration can help retailers to plan which products to stock, based on the individual needs of their customer base. Cadbury has thoroughly researched mint and gum consumption occasions and found that while there are 41% of occasions where both gums and mints are applicable, there are also times when one product is more relevant than the other. For example, its research states that people are more likely to consume mints over gum during an after- lunch slump, whereas gum is more likely to appeal over mints to aid concentration when teens are studying.

As well as meeting the needs of different consumption occasions, retailers should take into account the age ranges that different products appeal to. “The mint consumer is older than those who generally purchase chewing gum,” says Perfetti Van Melle trade marketing manager Ladi Moradi. “Polo and Trebor are highly established within the market place and this could explain the older demographic as people purchase the brands that they have grown up with.”

Both Polo and Trebor mints are aimed at 35- to 45-year-olds. However, Moradi claims that mint consumers being older than gum consumers is not a hard-and-fast rule. A number of mints, including Mentos, Tic Tac, Smint and Wrigley’s Extra Chewy, are all targeting a younger market.

Retailer’s view

“Our mints and gums are flying out the door right now. I bought five boxes of mints on my last trip to the cash & carry, which is a lot considering the size of our store. We stock Polos in original, fruit and sugar-free variants, Wrigley’s Extra Chewy mints, Trebor Extra Strong and Softmints in peppermint and spearmint. We get the odd request for Tic Tacs, but the last time I bought a box they went out of date. 

“Polos are our best-seller some people buy three or four packs of the sugar-free variants at a time. 

“I have a 20-strong gum stand and I’ll sell 10 boxes a week. I sell Wrigley’s Extra, Extra Ice, Airwaves, Doublemint, 5 Gum, and Juicy Fruits. 

“My cigarette sales are up 40% year on year and a big percentage of smokers will buy a pack of gum when they come in for their cigarettes, especially if they’re on their way to work in the morning. I guess it’s because they want fresh breath after they’ve smoked. 

“Extra in peppermint and spearmint are my best-sellers, although Airwaves in menthol & eucalyptus performs well.” 

Roger Rawlings, Lifestyle Express, Doncaster, Yorkshire

Of course, you know your customers better than anyone, so take time to consider carefully whether or not your mints and gums range is a good fit, both in terms of customer age and relevant consumption occasions. Products that communicate succinct, functional messages will be the ones to hit home with customers looking for oral care and breath-freshening products. But don’t forget to stock flavoured products, too, for those looking for something a little out of the ordinary.

Sticky situation 
It wasn’t so long ago that retailers’ shelves were filled with funky flavour combinations of gum, with Cadbury’s Trident leading the way. The brand, which set the market on fire back in 2007 with a vast array of flavours, has now significantly pared down its offering. Trident sales are down 27% to £3.1m in managed impulse (IRI 52 weeks ending April 16, 2011). 

“Recent years have seen a strong focus on npd supported by heavy marketing investment,” says Cadbury trade communications manager Susan Nash. “This support initially drove strong category growth, but the number of new launches was not sustainable and recently led to category decline. There is now a more conscious focus on a core range of high-performing products.” 

But the flavoured gum market still has plenty to offer. Wrigley’s 5 Gum promises a mind-blowing assault on the senses and the firm is currently investing in a PR campaign to engage with 13- to 25-year-olds. The gum is partnering up with globally recognised names in the five areas of gaming, music, film, art and fashion in a series of initiatives. 

Perfetti Van Melle is also pushing consumers’ sensory buttons with its new 3 Layers gum, which comes in a mint and fruit variants. The latter offers consumers three different layers of flavour strawberry, apple and raspberry in one stick of gum. “Products such as Wrigley 5 which retail at a higher price have proved that consumers are willing to pay more for products offering greater quality and/or functionality,” says marketing director Mark Stangroom. “The launch of Mentos 3 Layers will appeal to this audience looking for stylish packaging and gum innovation.” 

The company shelled out on TV advertising and sampling activity in May to support the launch and is confident that it will eventually steal Cadbury’s number two position in the gum market. “Gum is a key focus for us and so we hope to achieve a clear number two position in the UK market,” says Stangroom.

Ones to watch… 

Simply the zest 
Not content with spearmint and peppermint variants, Peppersmith is adding a Sicilian lemon and fine English peppermint product to its portfolio. The mints contain xylitol, which promotes healthy teeth. They contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. 
rrp: £1.49 
tel: 020 8788 2080 

Big spenders 
Cadbury is investing in a £3m marketing campaign across the entire Trebor brand including TV, print, sponsorship and digital activity. A promotion offering any two Trebor single countlines for 70p is running until August 1 in wholesale and cash & carry channels. 
rrp: £1.49 
tel: 08702 400 861 

Taste of the exotic 
It may have started off life as a mint brand, but fruit variants of Tic Tacs have become so popular that Ferrero has branched out with new seasonal flavours. Grape lychee and peach passion follow on from the success of cherry passion, which was launched last October. 
rrp: 45p 
tel: 01923 690300 

Good thinking 
Wrigley’s hopes to get ahead of the pack with its latest Airwaves campaign. Running until October, the Airwaves forecourt communications campaign features The Head a visual reminder of the stimulant benefits of chewing the gum. Wrigley will also be running promotions and giveaways alongside the campaign. 
tel: 01752 752094