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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is chief strategist and Jacqueline Beckley (email@example.com) is president of the Understanding and Insight Group, a strategy, business and product development firm. See www.theuandigroup.com.