Carefree extends its cool quotient with new product

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Hoping to make its Carefree sugarless gum cool again, Nabisco Foods Group is launching a new line called Carefree Koolerz.

Sales for the existing Carefree stick gum have plunged 20.7% to $50 million for the 52 weeks ended July 16, according to Information Resources Inc. Nabisco's LifeSavers unit is hoping to stem that decline with the debut early next year of the new cubelike gum offering a mouth-cooling sensation. The launch will be backed with more than $8 million in advertising that includes a return to TV for the Carefree brand after a four-year hiatus.

Koolerz features Citrus Splash, Berry Splash and Mint Splash varieties in boldly colored packs of 10 soft, bite-size pieces. It will be targeted to women 18 to 34 rather than to the 35-to-54 male and female demographic for the base Carefree brand. All three varieties feature Xylitol, an ingredient that enhances the gum's flavor and offers a cooling sensation (non-minty for the fruit flavors).


Although LifeSavers has run print ads for Carefree over the last three years, the unit has eschewed TV since 1996. The Koolerz launch will include an extensive TV and print campaign from FCB Worldwide, New York, that will run from April through September of 2001. Creative has not been determined, but the tagline will likely reflect the "cool and refreshing" theme that pervades packaging and sales materials.

LifeSavers will support Koolerz with coupon inserts in Sunday newspapers in May, sampling efforts from May through October and promotional events on the LifeSavers Web site ( LifeSavers spent only $2.5 million on Carefree in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

LifeSavers, like other gum marketers, has in the past few years focused its marketing and innovation efforts on the breath-freshening segment of the business, which Nabisco research shows was up 21.5% for the 12 weeks ended March 26.

Among the leaders in the segment are LifeSavers' own Breathsavers Ice Breakers sugarless gum, which grew 14.6% to $76 million for the 52 weeks ended July 16; Warner-Lambert Co.'s Dentyne Ice brand, up 47.7% to $65 million; and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.'s Eclipse brand, which has grown to a $30 million brand since its launch last May, according to IRI.

With the Koolerz innovation, which Nabisco research shows scored extremely well in consumer testing, LifeSavers is promising retailers it can jump-start the relatively flat gum segment it terms the "adult enjoyment" category -- a segment that still makes up 50% of overall gum sales but has seen little newproduct news in recent years.

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