Launches of new mints & gum lines have slowed down. Nikki Allen discovers what you can do to give your sales a cool boost and which of those products on the market already are worth their place in your range
But while new launches in the mints & gum category have slowed down, there is still no shortage of brands, variants and formats on the market. So, which lines are worth their space in-depot – and how can you freshen up your sales?
The gum category alone is worth more than £260m, Nielsen data shows, and almost half of shoppers in the UK buy it, according to Advantage. What is more, nearly half of consumers who buy gum chew it weekly and expect to find it at any convenience store.
“Gum is a significant margin provider for convenience stores and wholesalers,” says Dan Newell, portfolio director at Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK. “At recommended retail prices, Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s gum typically delivers more than 30% profit, which is significantly higher than other products.”
Mars Wrigley Extra’s core flavours – Peppermint and Spearmint – are the top-performing variants and are worth more than £130m (Nielsen).
Meanwhile, the mints segment is worth £139m, according to Nielsen. “While chewing gum continues to be popular, we find that consumers looking for a long-lasting breath-freshener are far more likely to reach for a mint,” says Andrew Ovens, marketing manager at Big Bear Confectionery.
“Our XXX Mints continue to remain popular with consumers and retailers, with more than 300m of our Extra Strong Mints consumed in the UK last year alone,” he adds.
The major brands continue to dominate both mints and gum sales. “Four out of five of the bestselling mints in the UK are from Trebor, which boasts annual sales of more than £48m,” says Susan Nash, communications manager at Mondelez International.
“The bestselling mint is Trebor Extra Strong Peppermint, while Trebor Extra Strong and Trebor Softmints have the highest rate of sale of all mints.”
But some of the category’s sales figures have not looked as convincing, suppliers acknowledge. “Our UK consumer research highlighted that over the past 10 years, the gum category has seen a 20% decline in penetration from the younger generation,” says Newell.
It is possible to turn this around, though, suppliers say. “As an industry, we have a responsibility to ensure we are constantly rejuvenating the market, and addressing both areas of growth and decline,” says Mark Roberts, trade marketing manager at Mentos and Smint brand owner Perfetti Van Melle.
See also: how to get your gum category right
On the move
The trend for eating on the move has boomed in the past year. The UK’s food-to-go sector is expected to be worth £23.5bn by 2022, up from £17.4bn in 2017, according to research body IGD. If consumers are snacking or drinking coffee on the go, it makes sense that they will be looking for a breath-freshener to accompany it.
Thus, one of the biggest trends in mints & gum this year will be the on-the-go format.
“Bottle formats are seeing increasing success, with the trend towards
snacking at work and eating on the road key to their performance,” says Mars Wrigley’s Newell.
He adds: “Consumers are looking for a convenient way to keep their teeth clean and healthy after eating and drinking, when brushing is not possible.”
Mars Wrigley’s bottle formats, which include 46- and 60-piece sizes, meet this demand and Nielsen data shows that they have seen 13% growth in the past 12 months, he adds.
It is a similar story with mints, says Mondelez’s Nash. “The pot format is now worth £4.5m in the mints category and growing at 230%, according to IRI data.”
This trend means that the launch of Mondelez’s Trebor Softmints and Mighties in a 100g pot last summer proved popular.
“The larger pot allows consumers to enjoy mints on the go and is ideal for desks at work, handbags and briefcases for the commute or in the car,” she adds.
“Sugar-free has never been more important to shoppers, as the mints & gum category is not exempt from being changed by health-conscious consumers”
The Sugar-free boom
Healthy eating is a trend felt in most food and drink sectors. According to IGD, nearly three-quarters (72%) of shoppers are buying healthier foods that contain fewer calories and less salt, sugar and fat.
It is little surprise, then, that sugar-free products have increasingly come to dominate consumer choices, with the global sugar-free foods market set to grow by 10% between now and 2021, according to a study from Research and Markets.
In mints & gum, sugar-free products are well established. “Sugar-free chewing gum dominates the shelves in this section – more than 97% of Wrigley’s gum sales are from sugar-free products,” says Newell.
“Sugar-free has never been more important to shoppers, as the mints & gum category is not exempt from being changed by health-conscious consumers,” agrees Perfetti van Melle’s Roberts. Smint is one of the leading sugar-free lines in the market, accounting for 26.5% of the overall category, he adds.
As well as being low in calories, sugar-free gum has another appeal: oral care.
“Research finds 80% of women are more concerned about tooth loss and oral health than weight gain, while 16- to 34-year-olds are more likely than other age groups to be concerned about oral health,” Newell notes.
“As Extra sugar-free gum is accredited by the Oral Health Foundation, gum is not just good for teeth, it is good for sales, too.”
Boosting sales in-depot
The mints & gum category is hugely impulsive for consumers. That means it is vital your retail customers merchandise and display their range with this in mind. Visits to your depot are, of course, less likely to be impulsive. But there is still plenty that you can do to boost sales, suppliers say.
Firstly, remember that this is a category dominated by big brands from major suppliers. Stock the bestselling gums – Extra Peppermint, Extra Spearmint, Extra White and Airwaves – and the bestselling mints, which include Trebor Extra Strong Peppermint and Softmints, Smint, Mentos and XXX.
Also key to creating a successful range is offering retailers a wide choice of pack formats and flavours, says Jo Alvarado, Mars Wrigley Confectionery field sales director. “This will help your retail customers to meet different consumer demands: for example, stock bottles, sticks and pellets, as well as a variety of flavours.
“We would also urge wholesalers to champion new products in-depot, such as Extra Cool Breeze Bottle and Hubba Bubba Cola,” she says.
It is also important to ride the wave of investment into major brands, says Mondelez’s Nash. “Wholesalers should make sure they stock the latest supported new products and make the most of brand investment,” she says.
This includes having products attractively displayed in-depot, which is when retailers are most likely to be aware of them, and using manufacturers’ point-of-sale material to help your customers spot the brands they are looking for, urges Nash.
Finally, offer advice to help your customers grow sales. “Key to success in selling mints is visibility,” says Nash. “Consumers expect to see mints by the counter, so urge your customers to see that, where space allows, they site mints in at least two locations: on the main confectionery fixture and in the area around the counter.”
By giving retailers good guidance, you will stand out as the wholesaler they will want to come back to.
Clifford Hall, Bargain Booze, Basildon, Essex
“We are always open to more advice about how we can make the most of mints & gum, so we would welcome that from our wholesaler. Our biggest-selling lines are Wrigley Extra and Airwaves, and we sell a lot more chewing gum than mints.”
Ammo Bhdaal, Spar Auckley, Doncaster, South Yorkshire
“Our bestselling chewing gums are the 10-packs of Wrigley’s Extra.
As mints & gum is such an impulsive category, it is all about display – it made a huge difference to sales when we moved ours upwards. I am happy with how my wholesaler displays and sells mints & gum.”
Harry Goraya, One Stop, Nisa Local, Northfleet, Kent
“We know customers pick up mints & gum while they are waiting, so we place them along our queuing barrier. Sales are steady and some suppliers have visited to help with merchandising. In general, there is not much guidance for mints, though, so I would like to see more advice.”
Harj Dhasee, Nisa Village Shop, Mickleton, Gloucestershire
“In my store, the bottle format is soaring and Extra Peppermint sugar-free has become really popular. I always need to know what bestsellers to stock and how to ensure customers do not miss them, so this is something I would like from both wholesalers and suppliers.”