The company launched the brand in 2013, but halted production months later after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was investigating the safety of caffeine in foods amid concerns about the effect on children and adolescents.
Wrigley previously said it would wait for the FDA to develop a regulatory framework on caffeine before relaunching Alert Gum.
Improving communications in absence of guidelines
Michelle Green, senior manager of global confectionery category & brand communications at Mars Wrigley, told ConfectioneryNews: “We understand the FDA has many important priorities and despite good-faith efforts, has not yet provided guidelines for caffeine usage in most food products."
Caffeine chocolate firm Awake Chocolate told us in 2014 the FDA was unlikely to ever regulate caffeine levels in confectionery products.
Green said: “In the absence of those guidelines, we’ve spent the past four years evaluating new and existing research on caffeine, and conducted a scientific study to close remaining knowledge gaps that existed in the published literature.”
How is gum performing?
Dollars sales in US gum declined 4% in the first half of 2017, according to IRI data for multi-outlets including c-stores in the 26 weeks ending June 25, 2017.
Wrigley’s market share in sugarless gum declined over the period by -1.72% to 72% of the market, as Hershey and Concord Confections gained share.
Mars Wrigley has published the information on its website.
Green added: “There is emerging evidence that cumulative caffeine intake in the US, even with caffeinated chewing gum, is not associated with adverse effects.”
According to the FDA, the average adult has an intake of 200 mg of caffeine per day, which is half the recommended limit (400 mg per day).
Slight change to packaging; same caffeine content
The relaunched Alert Gum – exhibited this week at the NACS Show - is unchanged in flavor, format and caffeine content (40 mg per piece).
“There are two changes to the packaging. It’s now called Alert Caffeine Gum, not Alert Energy Gum,” said Green
“It’s a simpler description of the product proposition, which offers caffeine but not other additives typically found in energy products.
“We’ve also added an endorsement from 5 Gum to the package artwork,” she said.
There have been a number of smaller entrants into energy gums in recent years, including UK mineral water firm Navson with Raw gum, Kerry Gum and Candy Treasure’s Jolt Energy Gum.
Green said Wrigley’s reputation could help it stand out and said it was committed to responsible marketing.
“We are marketing Alert Caffeine Gum to adults over 18 who are looking for a portable, tailored and simpler alternative to the current caffeine options on the market,” she said.
Targeting checkouts and energy aisles
Mars Wrigley will sell Alert Caffeine Gum across all channels – c-stores, mass, grocery, drug, and online.
It would like to merchandize the brand at checkouts, close to energy products, but said the second preferred location is in-aisle with the energy category, or alternatively with other gum products.
Mars Wrigley will ramp up its marketing spend on the brand in 2018 with online, social and paid media campaigns.
“We’ve put a tremendous amount of marketing energy into the product, of course, but also communicating a responsible message of caffeine consumption,” said Green.
Green said the caffeinated beverage and energy industry has continued to grow, but consumers are looking for alternatives to liquid forms.
She said Alert Gum could fill a gap for a portable, portion controlled energy boost.