Estimated U.S. Retail Market Size$3.2 billion
Source: National Confectioners Association, based on U.S. Dept. of Commerce Report and NCA Monthly Shipment Reports
Category ClimateGum gets a great rating as of late. The $3.2 billion category saw the highest manufacturer dollar sales growth rate in 2007 (4.1 percent) compared to chocolate (2.9 percent) and non-chocolate (3.8 percent), as calculated by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), based on its monthly shipment reports and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Sugarless gum retail sales grew by 13.5 percent last year, the NCA adds.
Mintel research shows that chewing gum and, in particular, sugar-free gum, “is appealing to a wider range of people than ever before, with much younger and, also, much older people reaching for a packet of gum.”
Sugar-free gum appeals greatly to dieters, those with diabetes and those trying to quit smoking. Promotion and advertising by leading manufacturers has also boosted the market.
Product InnovationOnce chewed mainly for taste, gum now has a variety of value-added benefits, some claiming to whiten teeth or improve dental hygiene, others fortified with vitamins, and some fusing exotic flavors. Hip names and long-lasting flavor is also “sweetening” the pot. These gum innovations primarily concentrate on low/no/reduced sugar claims. Gum products for kids, especially those with licensed characters or zany “value adds” have also been popular, according to Mintel. The chewing gum category has also seen new packaging types emerge, including a crush-resistant tube.
Global innovation is also being watched closely. Foreign candy flavors are being incorporated into gum. And in England, research is underway to create a gum that is chewy but not sticky.
Consumer PreferencesConsumer research by Mintel shows that 59 percent of adults use chewing gum or bubblegum, and 89 percent of teens and 91 percent of children do. Respondent gum users were more likely to use regular than sugarless products. While the usage percentages are similar for adults (59 percent sugarless vs. 62 percent regular), they are significantly higher for children (27 percent sugarless vs. 73 percent regular). Adults chew an average of eight pieces of gum per week, compared with 11 for teens and four for children.
Retailing/MerchandisingConvenience stores top all others for sales of gum (22 percent share), according to Mintel. But gum is popping up in all kinds of retail outlets, meaning mass marketers will have to get displays going that are even more impulsive and in non-traditional areas, including near produce, the bakery and the deli.
OutlookChewing gum is an exciting delivery method for functional ingredients. New studies are underway to formulate gums with extracts that inhibit bacteria. Market researcher Leatherhead International predicts that the global gum market will increase by 17 percent to almost $17 billion in the next four years.
Quick Bites• There is great growth in gum, particularly sugarless gum.
• Innovation abounds.
• Children and teens are the heavy users, but adults are chewing more sugarless.
• More gum is purchased at c-stores than any other channel.