Do We Get Emotional About Gum?

Is gum just gum? Hear me out. An interesting article caught my eye last month, it talked about the woes faced by the chewing gum industry in the USA where two of the largest gum manufacturers, Wrigley’s (which markets Extra and Orbit) and Mondelez International (which produces Trident), are facing declines in sales and consequently trying to combat these with a bevy of tactics. Investing in new product lines is one perceived answer, with Wrigley’s releasing an Extra Dessert Delights range (positioned as a dessert replacement, with flavours like mint chocolate chip and rainbow sherbet) and a caffeinated gum called Alert (not really a surprise that it was pulled by the Food and Drug administration amid concerns). The latter hurdle won’t deter Wrigley’s. A fundamental believer in new product development, the manufacturer has established a Global Innovation Centre in Chicago and holds over 200 significant patents and trademarks relating to chewing gum packaging, processing and product formulae (Ibisworld, Chocolate and Manufacturing Report, 2010). The story is not much different in Australia. While gum production is highly concentrated, Wrigley’s account for the majority of sales with their well- established stable of brands including Extra, Juicy Fruit and PK, innovation is deemed fundamental in responding to changing consumer trends such as concerns over sugar and fat content in food, and distinguishing each brand from competitors and so maintaining market share. Now that we’re all experts on ‘chewy’, what does it all mean? Well, innovation through diffusion lines may be one tactic of maintaining market share but what about considering the role of advertising, especially when it comes to differentiating the regular, run of the mill chewing gum (no fancy flavours, just mint all the way), where innovation is, well, less likely. Traditionally, chewing gum has been marketed on the functional product benefits (sugar-free/ maintains oral care/ gets rid of plaque build-up after a meal and even weight management!), but now Extra has done something different. The new ‘Birds’ ad focuses on creating an emotional hook, a reason to believe that gum is not just gum, but a product that goes beyond the functional when it is turned into something that little bit special. Credible? Believable? Different? Likely to revive flagging sales? Take a look (watch the Wrigley’s Antonio Banderas ad first to get a taste of the existing ads within the sector) … View the Wringley's ad >> View the Extra Gum ad >>

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