Candymakers Would Really Like You to Chew Gum Again

Getting America to chew gum is the goal to revive sagging sales, with a focus on stress relief, focus
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 17, 2024 3:15 PM CDT
Candymakers Would Really Like You to Chew Gum Again
Alyona Fedorchenko of the Mars Snacking division is seen at the company's employee store onJan. 23 in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Candy companies want to know: What will make Americans start chewing gum again? Gum's bubble burst during the COVID-19 pandemic, when masks and social distancing made bad breath less of a worry and fewer people spent on impulse buys. The number of packages of gum sold dropped by nearly a third in the United States in 2020, according to market research firm Circana, and consumer demand has picked up only slightly since then.

  • Recent numbers: Last year, US chewing gum sales rose less than 1%, to 1.2 billion units, which was still 32% fewer than in 2018. Although sales in dollars are back to pre-pandemic levels, that's mostly due to inflation. The average pack of gum cost $2.71 last year—$1.01 more than it did in 2018, Circana said.

  • Defections: Some manufacturers are responding to the bland demand by leaving the market altogether. In 2022, Mondelez International sold its US, Canadian, and European gum business, including brands like Trident, Bubblicious, Dentyne, and Chiclets.
  • Roadblocks: Lynn Dornblaser of market research firm Mintel said a growing number of consumers are trying to limit sugar in their diets and to eat foods with more natural ingredients. That limits the appeal of gum, as even sugar-free varieties often contain artificial sweeteners. Meanwhile, consumers, especially those in Europe and Asia, also may be increasingly concerned about stubborn litter from used gum, Dornblaser said.
  • Generational: Generation X tends to chew gum more than other age groups, says Circana's Dan Sadler. Millennials generally show less interest in gum and candy, while Gen Z consumers are more interested in novelty candies like sour gummies.
  • Possible solutions: Mars Inc., which owns the 133-year-old Wrigley brand, thinks it may have an answer: repositioning gum as an instant stress reliever rather than an occasional breath freshener. Studies by Mars have shown that half of chewers reached for gum to relieve stress or boost concentration. Mars also is introducing new products like Respawn by 5 gum, which is aimed at gamers. The gum contains green tea and vitamin B, and the company promotes those ingredients as a way to help improve focus.
Much more here. (More chewing gum stories.)

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