Cadbury's Trident Fusion Gum

Cadbury's Trident Fusion Gum creates a unique, customized experience that doubles or triples gum consumption.

By Hollis Ashman and Jacqueline Beckley, Consumer Understanding Editors

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Chewing gum has been with us for at least 2,000 years. The only difference has been the resin source. How do you keep a product that has been around for so long and innovatively modified across the years fresh and fun for consumers, yet reasonably priced?

Cadbury Adams has taken the idea of mass customization and applied it to gum. The company's new Trident Fusion Gum gives gum chewers the ability to customize using the consumer's own mouth.

Each package has sweet and sour versions of the flavor. Consumers can choose how much sweet or sour to add to their "mouth mixing machine" to create their own unique chewing flavor and sense sensation.

Understanding the marketplace

Gums and mints have a market size of $3.3 billion and a growth rate of -5 percent from 2002 to 2004, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI). The only growth area is sugarless gums (market size of $640 million and growth rate of 21 percent from 2002 to 2004). This is largely due to improvements in artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols and other proprietary ingredients like encapsulants (a key ingredient in Hershey's Ice Breakers) and Relcadent, which remineralizes teeth (found in Trident White and Trident for Kids).

Trident Fusion Gum is available in two flavors, Strawberry and Mint, for 99 cents to $1.25 per pack.

Sugar-sweetened regular gums have declined every year since 1998, as consumers switch to sugarless to reduce sugar intake and take advantage of many oral benefits provided by the sugarless group. The purchase decline is not found just in gum but in other items like breath strips and mints.

Shelf space near cash registers — the impulse purchase zone — has declined as this area has become a competitive battlefront for gums along with breath mints, strips, snacks, chocolate, health bars and regular candy. Lower velocity products are quickly moved off the shelf to make room for new products.

Top selling channels for gums and like products are convenience stores (45 percent of sales) and then supermarkets (26 percent of sales). Convenience store sales of gums and mints declined 6 percent from 1999 to 2004, according to IRI. The constant development of new products is creating shelf space issues for convenience stores driving a review of sales of each product line.

Industry consolidation is also a factor as Cadbury purchased Adams Confectionary from Pfizer in March 2003 and Wrigley purchased Altoids from Kraft in the past year. Wrigley is the category leader with more than 35 percent share, Cadbury has 16 percent share and GlaxoSmithKline (Nicorette) has 11 percent share, followed by Hershey. Key brand names are Extra, Orbit, Eclipse (all by Wrigley); Trident, Dentyne (Cadbury-Adams), and Ice Breakers (Hershey).

Sugarless gum sales have been driven by the benefits of new flavors, longer-lasting taste, reduced sugar and therefore calorie content, dental benefits and breath freshening.

For Trident, the Cadbury purchase of Adams from Pfizer meant they needed to take executive focus off of the shelf and into the business at a very active and aggressive time for gums. Trident Fusion Gum represents a core understanding of how one might try to increase velocity through effective product design.

Insights

Trident is trying to meet the needs of typically younger, more impulse-oriented consumers and shift the paradigm of gum chewing from one of one or two pieces per chew experience to that of multiple pieces per experience to deliver the consumer benefit of customization in the mouth with a goal of greater package use up rate per package unit and hopefully more gum purchases overall.

There are a lot of gum, mint and breath strip choices, and the consumer is somewhat fickle, as this is typically an impulse purchase. Gum usage (penetration) is very high among teens and kids (94-95 percent of them chew gum) while the drop off to adults goes to about 79 percent. Frequency of use is reported to increase with age with kids chewing about four pieces a week, teens five pieces, while adults chew almost eight pieces a week on average, according to Mintel International.

The product design opportunity is to increase the number of pieces an individual chews per week. Let's call these chewing events.

Healthy You! It!s Convenient Insight: Healthy You! and It!s Convenient innovatively integrated up to 35 categories of linked conjoint studies to generate a database that can be used to understand the experience of foods (from product, health benefits or secondary aspects or convenience aspects, emotions, and brands/ benefits) in the marketplace.

The key attributes for healthy gums and candy are: taste, price, good-for-you and appearance. Reasons for chewing are that people are looking for something to do with their mouths, to relieve boredom, to keep something in their mouth that either keeps them "busy" or distracts them from craving food.

When consumers are asked to trade off ideas about gums and candy, the top rated ideas are about brands, functional ingredients, reward as a snack or treat, and intense flavors. Consumers are open to healthy ideas, but these must fit within a brand structure and not be so overly communicated that the gum loses its reward as a treat and its good flavor positioning.

Key trends that are impacting this category are packaging, aging populations and healthfulness.

Packaging: Most gums always have been highly portable. From a flatter package that fits sleekly in a pocket to the individual serving attributes of blister packs to novel containers, packaging has been an important component.

Aging population: Households with children are more likely to consume gum than those without children. As household sizes begin to decrease, this will be an issue. As the population shifts toward an older population, it is key to understand concerns and benefits for this older group to keep them in the franchise.

Healthfulness: Gum is a great way to deliver health benefits. An increasing number of consumers are open to products that do more than just freshen breath. Tooth whitening products were an initial foray in this area. Fortification is a difficult path as there has to be balance between the ingredient message and the fun message, but there is potential here.

The experience

Trident Fusion Gum is available in two flavors, Strawberry and Mint, for 99 cents to $1.25 per pack. Each package has 12 pieces (tablets) of sugarless gum. For this type of gum the serving size is typically one or two pieces. But the instructions are to "Fuse it up!" and "Chew the sweet pieces with the sour pieces and you've created a fusion of flavor that's all your own!" That suggests a minimum of two pieces, and that may not be enough to make it your own.

Initially, not all testers understood the importance of mixing the two different flavors. Once the fusion concept was apparent, the kids were chewing multiple tablets and analyzing the resulting flavor.

Trident Strawberry Fusion has one set of tablets that are darker with a berry sweet taste and a lighter set of tablets that are sour-sweet. Alone, the berry gives one a very sweet, subtle berry. This is not a flavor we have been used to recently with all the intensity focus of other gums. It is low in intensity and very berry, lasting about two minutes.

The sour piece generates a lot of mouthwatering sourness. Salivary juices are gushing in the mouth for about three minutes. Both tabs start out chewy and begin to get firm rather quickly.

When one begins to use the fusion approach, any standard assessment of gum fails. The product becomes interactive and therefore much more compelling. Any adult can easily "play" with his gum or his senses and run through a package of this product rapidly, if he wants to.

Our testers (in this case mostly kids) were not all intuitively clear on the customization aspects of this product. Some did not read the package and just started chewing, commenting that while the flavor was good, what was the big deal? However, those kids (and most adults) who did read the package instructions did get the customization idea and found it fun to play with the different tabs, looking for the mixture that was right for them.

Their enthusiasm trickled over to the nonmixing kids and soon these kids "got it" too. The result was that before the fusion concept was clear, kids were chewing one or two tabs and thinking about the gum flavor. Once the fusion concept was apparent, the kids were chewing four to six tablets and focusing on the fusion flavor in their mouth.

The health benefits of cleaning teeth and fighting cavities (tooth-friendly sweetener Xylitol is used) are on the back to help gatekeeper mom feel better about the choice of gum. These benefits are small enough in print that most kids do not see them.

Does the product deliver?

The Trident brand stands for "the great taste that is good for your teeth." Existing products are focused on the brand's sugar-free, dental health heritage — "four out of five dentists surveyed would recommend sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum."

This product is about fun and health at the same time. This also is fusion — providing a fun chewing event while also providing a health benefit.

How to make the idea bigger

We were incredibly impressed with the simplicity of this solution. Most consumers only chew one or two pieces at a time. This product encourages a person to chew four to six pieces at a time to appreciate the event. Thus, emptying the pack in about three rounds — less than half the normal time — creates a need for more product to do the whole thing again.

In order to consider how to make this idea bigger, taste is an issue. The mint version, while delivering two levels of intensity, is not the vivid experience we reported above for the strawberry. So fewer tabs are chewed. Finding a way to make a compelling mint is critical.

The fusion of sweet and sour or multiple flavors is a great platform opportunity and can get very big. It takes the consumer to customizing what benefits they want from their gum. Starting with flavor is great. Trident could then move on to further health benefits, allowing consumers to choose how much healthfulness they want in their "fun" gum. The ability to extend to other senses and sensations is very broad. This is a great start for a grand yet simple idea.

Figuring out how to communicate the experience is critical. Some of our consumers needed training. Not much, but they were not expecting to be the mixer. Some work is required here so consumers understand quickly.

Rating: Trident Strawberry Fusion delivers on its promise. It fits the fun orientation, gives the consumer an opportunity for customization, delivers a little oral health and enables a higher turning product for holding on to shelf space.

Market potential: Good, yet completely dependent on the flavors and later benefits. Also highly dependent on Trident's ability to find more flavors with sweet and sour versions that are complementary enough yet different enough to provide that unique sensory experience for the "mix master." We hope Trident sees how grand this simple innovation is.



Hollis Ashman (hollis@theuandigroup.com) is chief strategist and Jacqueline Beckley (jackie@theuandigroup.com) is president of the Understanding and Insight Group, a strategy, business and product development firm. See www.theuandigroup.com.

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