Stimulate the senses. That’s the tagline for marketing messages that accompany Wrigley’s newest branded chewing gum called 5. The line launched in early 2007, and in its first year has managed to stimulate growth as well as the five human senses.

In early February 2008, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Chicago, announced that full-year 2007 net sales climbed 15% from the prior year to a new annual sales record of $5.4 billion, which also produced record earnings results in 2007.

President and chief executive officer Bill Perez indicated that in a year of rising costs and competition, the company delivered against its long-term goal of 9-11% earnings per share growth for the eighth consecutive year. The company said that sales increases were primarily driven by a combination of worldwide shipment growth of 6%, along with pricing gains and the positive impact of currency translation of relatively stronger international currencies to U.S. dollars.

In the United States, the company said that there was growing strength of the new 5 brand.

Reuben Gamoran, senior vice president and chief financial officer, suggested in a statement that the company was pleased with the overall improvement in 2007 gross margins following recent declines.

Although gains by innovations and extensions of other lines, namely Orbit, were instrumental to Wrigley’s growth in 2007, the 5 brand has been a primary source of new revenue based on insightful innovation and well-executed product development.

A Sense of the Market

Look and Feel

The package is where the sight and texture sensory elements play a role. During packaging development stages, both the visual identity of the brand and the tactile nature of the package were of great importance since they represented two of the five senses - the core identity of 5.

“Once the decision was made that the new brand would be about connecting with the five senses, it put a lot of healthy pressure on our team to make sure that every dimension of the brand and the product did indeed push the edge,” says Jackson-Luth.

The product offers a palpable example of packaging, marketing and launch stages existing on equal ground with ingredient, flavor and formula development. This balance across all aspects of product development suggests that the first-year success of 5 is no fluke. In fact, Wrigley sees the product as a future cornerstone of the business, one that stands out against other products in the category and against its own gum brands.

And in fact, standing out on the shelf against other gum brands was a strategy Wrigley employed when designing the package for 5.

“The predominantly black package with both matte and gloss finishes, and embossed and de-bossed textures makes the slim packaging difficult to overlook,” says Jackson-Luth.

As Wrigley engaged with consumers in the marketplace, it learned that the visual identity of confections is a veritable kaleidoscope. The average confections rack features a wide variety of vibrant colors to communicate the “fun” of the category.

“When the confection brands are together on a rack the net effect is that it’s really tough for a new brand to jump out,” says Jackson-Luth. “This why Wrigley engaged heavily with consumers on the idea of gum with a visual identity dominated by black.”

Regarding the name, 5, Wrigley tested the idea of not naming the product at all. The company’s idea was to instead assign a symbol to the new gum line, i.e “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.” But although the idea was progressive, it ultimately did not resonate with consumer research.

“The reality was that traditional wisdom was actually correct, and using a symbol instead of a name would not work well in the commercial experience,” says Jackson-Luth. “Consumers were interested by the idea, but also a little confused by it.”

At the end of product development, Wrigley had its new 5 brand in the form of what it calls a “groundbreaking” sugar-free stick gum with mouth-freshening, long-lasting flavors combined with invigorating sensations "you can feel as you chew." The work resulted in three varieties: Cobalt with a cooling peppermint, Flare with a heating cinnamon, and Rain with a refreshing, tingling spearmint.

Additional flavors have not been identified at this time.

5 was supported by evocative television advertisements that portrayed the sensory experience 5 offers gum chewers. The commercials set the tone for the playful and mysterious concept behind 5. Since its launch, consumers have come to describe 5 as a “designer gum” because of its sleek and image-conscious package. In essence, consumers have acknowledged the meticulous design that went into the package appearance and texture. Another indication of success thus far is the series of sincere and jocular odes to 5 created by consumers on YouTube. Most short videos are takes on the 5 sensory experience television commercials in which consumers have some wild sensory responses upon chewing a piece of 5 gum.

With 5, Wrigley diverts from its core Wrigley gum brands like Wrigley Spearmint, Big Red and Juicy Fruit, as well as its newer successes - Orbit and Eclipse. 5 stands out. And it does so because it embodies a new product that entered the market with a fully-realized concept from ingredient development to packaging and distinct marketing messages. In year one, 5 has been a model launch, and an example of how well-executed new product innovation and development sustains business and growth in the marketplace.

Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the March 2008 issue of New Products Magazine, a sister publication to Confection & Snack Retailing.