A Gum Comeback: 7 Reasons the Segment Has Hope for Growth

bubble gum

Chewing gum is trying to restore its mojo.

The category had a burst of good fortune as recently as 2016 when new innovation was coupled with supplier and, by extension, retailer decisions to scale back overall selection of brands. It seemed that less did become more.

Healthy gum innovation was also at the root of that rebirth. But chewing gum as a whole seems to be on the upswing as other new and dynamic snack options have risen up.

The gum category for a 24-week period ending May 14, 2017, shows regular nonsugarless varieties falling 4.08% in dollar sales and 6% in units from the year-ago period. Sugarless fell 5% and 8%, respectively, according to data from Chicago-based IRI. But the top sellers mostly saw incremental growth.

Tiffany Menyhart, director, U.S. category management for Chicago-based Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., offers some advice for retailers to regain some merchandising strength. This might be an obvious selling tenet, but Menyhart says it’s incumbent on c-stores to truly “maximize exposure at checkout. Although checkout at c-stores is different than other channels, it’s still important to make the most of shoppers’ time while they wait to approach the counter and pay. For example, every c-store should have a countertop display by the cash register, which could include seasonal products. Shoppers are likely to grab a treat when they see it in that area,” Menyhart says.

Following are seven gum brands that fall within the top-20 nonsugarless segment.
 

1. Wrigley Doublemint Regular

Wrigley Doublemint Regular

Wrigley brands—led by Doublemint Regular—placed the top seven brands. The first five were all Wrigley-branded SKUs. The top dog, Doublemint, however, fell 2.34% in dollar sales for the 24-week period (on $19.3 million in total ring)—all part of the gum segment seeking some type of booster shot to stimulate price, promotion and display activities. 

2. Hubba Bubba

Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape Regular

Two of Wrigley’s Hubba Bubba brands fell just outside the top five. Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape Regular registered 0.83% dollar sales growth, but the big winner in the brand family and operating outside the top 10 was Hubba Bubba Crush Regular, which led all nonsugarless gum brands with 28.6% dollar-sales growth for the 24-week period. In 1979, Hubba Bubba represented Wrigley’s, with the name inspired by the phrase “Hubba Hubba,” which was used by soldiers during World War II to express approval.

3. Big League Chew

Big League Chew

Similar to Hubba Bubba Crush Regular, Ford Gum & Machine Co.’s Big League Chew Regular registered dollar-sales growth of 4.49% during the 24-week period. 

4. Dubble Bubble

Dubble Bubble

Concord Confections' Dubble Bubble Regular experienced 11.88% dollar-sales growth.

5. Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum

Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum

To drive sales of brands like Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum (No. 3 on the nonsugarless best-selling list and the only SKU of the top five Wrigley’s brands to register a positive dollar-sales performance at 2.87%), retailers should place secondary displays in high-traffic locations. “Our research shows that over half of all confectionery items are purchased on impulse to satisfy an immediate need, so by having additional touch points c-stores have an opportunity to showcase products outside of those found in the aisle. Hot spots include near the register, cold vault, foodservice/deli and fountain drinks,” says Menyhart. 

6. Juicy Fruit America Pop

Juicy Fruit America Pop

According to Menyhart, “c-stores are showing greater interest in stocking seasonal products like Skittles America Mix, which performed so well in 2016 we’ve brought it back and have (also) introduced Juicy Fruit America Pop for summer 2017 to extend that success into gum. Retailers can look to those products to generate additional excitement in stores and we’re expecting positive growth in this area,” she says.  

7. Trident

Trident

In the sugarless gum segment, Trident Sugarless (Mondelez International) led the pack, but lost about 8% in both unit and dollar sales during the 24-week period. A variety pack contains 288 pieces.