The mint category, however, is being invigorated by rapid growth in recent years, especially stronger tasting mints that are marketed as breath fresheners. U.S. mint sales burst nearly 20% over the past five years, reaching $1.2 billion in 2013.
“The gum industry has become unstuck and will need to sink its teeth into some solid marketing ideas in order to reinflate sales,” said Rabobank senior analyst Nicholas Fereday. “Savvy mint companies have packed fresh breath, oral hygiene and low calories into their marketing mix, and trumped gum on convenience and value. If current trends continue, we may become a nation of suckers.”
Factors Deflating U.S. Gum Sales
Three of the factors popping gum’s bubble, Fereday says, are loss of appetite among youth, consumer distaste for artificial ingredients contained in most gum, and overblown brand and flavour extensions.
Make Way for Mints
On top of these factors, Fereday says, the major driver behind gum’s decline is the ascendancy of mints. The U.S. market has seen 4% CAGR since 2008, with standard mints growing 15%, and power mints growing 27% ‒ up 6.4% in 2013 alone.
While not fully offsetting the decline in gum sales, most mint products contain many more servings (five to seven times) than do gum products. Mints have the additional advantages of leaving no product waste, thus eliminating the “residue” issue, and also being much more discreet to suck than chomping on gum.
Care for Some Gum?
We unwrap four suggestions for gum manufacturers to chew on: