The natural gum manufacturer debuted its first line of mints this month at Expo West in Anaheim, California.
CEO Caron Proschan said its mint range is a natural move for the business because gum and mint belong to the breath freshening category. The mints come in three flavors based on Simply Gum’s original gum and popular SKUs: mint, ginger and cinnamon.
The retail price of the mints will be the same as gum, she added. But they will not be available through brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels in the US until April 1, 2017.
All Simply Gum’s products are made without artificial ingredients such as aspartame and xylitol, according to the company. Its chewing gum is made with chicle, a latex sap from the sapodilla tree grown in Central America, instead of plastic.
Advantage of being a gum startup
It is no secret the gum category has been experiencing sluggish sales in recent years largely due to the lack of innovation, ConfectioneryNews previously reported.
“[In the gum category], all the packaging looks the same, and all the flavors are the same,” Proschan said.
“While other categories like cookies and chips have experienced that innovation over the past few years to follow consumer trends, gum has been stuck in the old times.”
Both regular gum and sugarless gum categories have shown annual dollar sales decline, according to IRI data that includes total US multi-outlets with convenience stores for the last 52 weeks ending October 2, 2016.
Wrigley posted total dollar sales for its regular gum portfolio of nearly $0.4bn, declining by 0.88% during the period, IRI data showed. Meanwhile, its sugarless gum’s dollar sales showed a steeper decline of 3.22%.
“I think it’s a difficult category for sure, and I think that’s why there are very few startups in this space as 95% of the market is owned by large incumbents,” Proschan said.
“It is a category that has not traditionally attracted independent startups. For us, it’s actually an advantage because it was not crowded.”
Mint, on the other hand, posted a dollar sales increase of 8.62%, the highest growth among the overall non-chocolate candy category, according to the same IRI data sheet.
Proschan claims gum is an impulse item, and that is the reason why Simply Gum tries to get its products at the checkout aisles in all retailers it partners with.
“[The checkout] is the most attractive space in the store for chewing gum. It’s certainly a big part of our strategy to take advantage of that area,” she said.
Proschan pointed out that retail partners are also aware of the declining gum sales, and they feel the need to offer new items to get sales back up.
“In some stores such as Whole Foods, they obviously don’t carry conventional gum. Other stores do carry conventional gum and put our products right next to them. We are also found in natural sections,” she said.
In addition to grocery chains, Simply Gum is available in independent coffee shops, and multinational clothing corporation, Urban Outfitters, across the US.
“We love being placed right next to conventional gum because our packaging is so beautiful and it stands out,” Proschan added.
“We never want to be a niche product. We want to be an everyday gum sitting next to Wrigley.”
Simply Gum, which started in 2014, has reached 7,000 retailers in the US, and targets millennial and Gen Z consumers, the company said.
Proschan said the outlook for the business is positive and she expects it to double its revenue in 2017.