Larry Wilson, NCA vice president of trade relations, recently gave a presentation for the NCA’s Sweet Insights webinar series about consumer profiles in the gum category.
He said that 41% of US consumers eat confections on any given day and around 16% consume gum at least once a day.
Using data collated by research firms including The NPD Group and Symphony IRI, Wilson said that young adults aged 18-34 were the primary gum consumers and accounted for 30% of all US gum eating occasions.
Important teen market
Teens made up only 14% of eating occasions; however they represent just 7% of the US population, meaning they are eating more.
“Teens are critically important to the gum category. They are having double their fair share of gum,” said Wilson.
“Teens, if you can get them in early, that’s an opportunity,” he continued.
Teenage girls were said to be more frequent consumers than boys and 214% more likely to consume gum than the average across all age groups.
Wilson said that mint flavours became more appealing as consumers aged, with children and teens opting for bubble gum and fruit flavours.
African Americans and Hispanics were also found to be likelier to chew gum than white consumers.
Locations and timing
Two-thirds of gum is consumed away from home with the majority consumed while on the move in a car or plane or while at work, found the research.
Gum therefore differs to other confections which are typically eaten at home said Wilson.
He added that gum was viewed mainly as a snack, but there was an opportunity for firms to position a product for consumption after a meal for a refreshing taste.
He added that Americans tended to chew twice a day between meals in the morning and afternoon.
“Those are the times you are most likely to engage them and trigger that impulse behaviour of gum chewing,” he said.
Active, social & health conscious
Wilson continued that gum chewers were generally more social, hardworking and exercised more than non-chewers and spent more time with their family.
“If you look at oral hygiene, that’s very important to them as well,” he added.
Gum consumers are 10% more likely to use mouthwash than non-chewers and also brush and floss more, according to the research.
Wilson said that the permitted claim on gum from the American Dental Association that says it can prevent cavities and protect teeth as well as emerging research that gum aids attention and focus, created opportunities in the sugarless gum segment.
Some consumers even said that they consume gum to improve concentration. However, the majority purchased gum to freshen their breath.
Source: NCA Sweet Insights webinar