Gum is stuck in a sales rut and there are plenty of reasons why, according to analysts. Teenagers have less money to spend. There is more competition from other snacks, including mints. Even skinny jeans have played a role, said one analyst.
Gum "couldn't fit in pockets," said Matt Hudak, who covers the snack sector for Euromonitor International. While brands have started to solve that issue with slimmer packs, the category's larger issues remain. Sugarless gum sales fell 6.6% to $2.7 billion in the year ending July 14, according to IRI. "There's just apathy toward it," Mr. Hudak said. "Marketers definitely need to reignite a passion somewhere with someone."
But how? The nation's two largest gum marketers, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. and Mondelez International, appear to be coming up with two different approaches. Mondelez, whose brands include Trident and Stride, has foreshadowed a return to more functional messaging with an emphasis on benefits such as oral health, rather than the more emotional approach that CEO Irene Rosenfeld recently characterized as "a little bit too esoteric."
By contrast, Wrigley is tugging at heartstrings in the newest campaign for Extra, the marketer's second-largest gum brand behind Orbit. The campaign, which breaks this week, debuts with a TV spot that puts Extra at the center of emotional moments between a father and daughter. The agency is Omnicom Group's Energy BBDO, Chicago.
The kicker, "sometimes the little things last the longest," is a nod to the brand's longtime positioning as a long-lasting gum. But the campaign's softer tone moves away from the practical benefits the gum had been promoting, including weight management. "We are trying to turn around and grow the gum category and we wanted to have a more broadly appealing benefit," said Anne Marie Splitstone, senior gum category director at Wrigley. While weight management "works with a sub-segment of the population, it doesn't have the broadest appeal," she added.