Perfetti Van Melle, the company created last year through the merger of Italy's Perfetti group and the Dutch firm Van Melle, has launched a new variant of Mentos line of mint-flavoured sugar confectionery - Breathmakers.
The company, the sixth largest player in the sugar confectionery and chewing gum sector, chose the US as the main launch pad for Breathmakers because the Mentos line has something of a cult following there after 30 years of quirky marketing campaigns.
Bob Howard, vice president of marketing at Van Melle USA, explained that the decision behind Breathmakers was to return to the roots of mint sweets. The recent trend has been to make mints as strong as possible, but Breathmakers were designed to be an effective breath mint which was pleasurable to eat.
"Recent research in the category shows it's possible to go too far in a taste profile," Howard said. "There has been a decline in the popularity of extreme mints, with a corresponding growth in chewing gums. These two conditions made the time right for a Breathmakers launch. The positioning as a great-tasting mint that freshens your breath represents a real opportunity for this product and is very much in line with Mentos strategy."
Breathmakers also mark a change in tradition for the Mentos brand. Gone is the cylindrical roll, and in its place 1.2 ounce cardboard box with an ingenious locking mechanism. Breathmakers are also smaller but more powerful than other Mentos mints, and the classic elliptical shape of Mentos has been replaced with a small, chewy mint the size of a pencil eraser. The product is available in two flavours: spearmint and wintergreen.
"The chewy part of the product lets Breathmakers appeal to strong consumer interest in gum products, because as a chewy mint it exists a little in both worlds," Howard said. "It refreshes your breath and provides great chewing pleasure, but without some of the inconvenience of gums."
The new product is being launched with a blaze of publicity and is targeting the 18-34 year old age group. The campaign will carry messages that gently stress the difference between Breathmakers and the so-called 'mean mints', freshening with 'pleasure not pain', and obtaining harmony between 'fresh breath and good taste'.
Breathmakers are expected to be available on most store shelves in the US by the early autumn, although the company did not say whether the product would also be available in European markets.
Perfetti Van Melle also produces a range of other sugar confectionery products, including Airheads, Fruittella, and Meller, and has production units in the US, the Netherlands, Brazil, Indonesia, China, India, Hungary, Romania and Poland. It also has sales companies in a number of West, Central and East European countries and in Asia.