Functional Gum

Gums with benefits are driving sales in this fast-growing category where it’s all about value-added.

Gum is an excellent delivery vehicle for ingredients; the capillaries in the mouth provide a very direct route into the bloodstream. Research studies have linked functional gums with everything from blasting bad breath to eliminating “dry mouth” to increasing concentration and memory.
Some might say that the original functional gum was the well known smoking-cessation gum sold in pharmacies. Today, functional gum delivers many less strictly “therapeutic” benefits, and, as such, is carving out a place within the regular gum set.
Current noteworthy functional ingredients in gum include the tooth-friendly artificial sweetener Xylitol, caffeine, green tea and herbal/botanicals such as guarana.  
Clearly, the category has begun to gain some momentum. The mainstream gum category market leader will unveil a much-touted new brand said to deliver a multi-sensory experience and with a positioning that might be said to hover on functional later this year. Functional gum products are justifying their existence at retail. If the benefit is right, consumers buy into the concept, and the gum’s slightly higher price point means nice margin potential for retailers.  
Functional gums belong in the regular gum set. That is where consumers will look for them and where the functional gum purchaser already shops. Thus, that’s where retailers will realize the greatest sales growth. A front-end display might make sense on occasion as well — perhaps energy gum at the register in a college bookstore during finals week or a weight-control gum at a drug store checkout during prime dieting season in January.
These products are value-added, so there should be minimal consumer resistance to products priced 20 – 30 percent higher than “non-functional” gum SKUs. That makes sense for gum makers, who frequently are adding pricey ingredients to the formulations, and also for retailers who have the opportunity for attractive margins.
Gums formulated with whatever herbal ingredient is red hot at the moment have short-term marketplace potential and may attract some attention at retail. The true, long-term potential for the category, however, is with products formulated to deliver effective and sought-after benefits that make sense to consumers. Think teeth-whitening, weight control and energy delivery, among others.
$600 million
Functional Gum Estimated U.S. Retail Market Size

Source: Confectionerestimate based on input from industry players

Merchandising Must
• Make a connection. Because functional gums deliver such a far-reaching assortment of benefits, cross-merchandising opportunities abound. Energy gums, for example, fit logically at the coffee bar in a convenience store or attached to the door of a cooler in the energy drink section. With weight management gums, there are a myriad of opportunities — with low-fat dairy products, diet soda, diet frozen foods and healthful cereals…the list goes on.