Chewing gum, mints and breath fresheners sell well in downturn


According to recent research from Mintel, the gum, mints and breath fresheners market has seen sales growing through the recession in the US, increasing over 10% since 2007, and is expected to continue growing through 2014.

“Although this market is not entirely recession proof; gum, mints and breath fresheners are faring well due to their low price points and the feeling that consumers are getting a small treat,” said Bill Patterson, senior analyst at Mintel. “In addition, innovative packaging and unique flavors are aiding in the upward sales momentum.”

Marketers normally use packaging to help freshen and develop a brand’s image, but Mintel’s survey respondents think functionality is key in the gum category. Nearly 50% of people cited packaging that reseals better or is easier to open as being most important. Meanwhile, 19% of people want gum and mints to have packaging that’s better for the environment.

Innovation is not only coming by way of packaging, but also unique flavor combinations, reports Mintel. Wrigley’s well-known Orbit brand of gum has launched innovative flavours, such as: Sangria Fresca, Maui Melon Mint and CitrusMint. According to Mintel’s research, this is just what gum chewers want – 43% say they like to try new brands or flavours because they like the variety and 13% try new brands or flavours because they have yet to find one they love.

“In recent years, gum and mint manufacturers have placed an emphasis on the health-delivering benefits of their products,” said Patterson. “Gum has long been associated with this approach but has become even more so by providing more functional benefits like whitening teeth, strengthening teeth and overall oral hygiene. Mints have followed suit by enhancing their products with antioxidants, green tea and other health-promoting ingredients.”

Despite the emphasis on health, breath-freshening remains the most important function of gum and mints in the minds of Mintel’s survey respondents. Nearly four times as many respondents cited this compared to a healthy function (43% versus 13%).

People are quite willing to share their gum too. Nearly half (44%) claim to give many pieces away to friends, family or colleagues. But of those, only 6% offer it to colleagues, as to not insinuate that someone has bad breath.