With gum sales softening, Wrigley gets truthful for 5 Gum

New summer promotion includes in-store displays, online videos

Wrigley Canada launched 5 Gum in 2008 by inviting users to stimulate their senses. Seven years later, it has introduced a Canada-wide game of truth or dare in an attempt to stimulate sales.

With its all-black packaging and hip flavour names like Cobalt and Rain, 5 Gum is something of an outlier in the gum category, pitched at teens and young adults who are increasingly turning to mints and other snack items to satiate their snack cravings.

The summer-long promotion, which ladders up to a broader brand positioning introduced this year (“Life happens in 5”) includes wrappers on individual sticks of 5 Gum. The wrappers challenge consumers to complete a dare, such as making somebody blush or performing a random act of kindness, or answer questions like “what’s your biggest fear?”

“We pride ourselves on being unconventional in the category, and this program is just another example of that,” says Dan Alvo, director of marketing for Wrigley Canada in Toronto. “Truth or dare is universal, doesn’t require a lot of explanation and is very easy to play.”

The summer promotion, which wraps later this month, consists of in-store displays and POS material, as well as a series of online videos featuring Saskatchewan-born snowboarding brothers Mark and Craig McMorris. Craig was a bronze medalist at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, while the two men also star in an MTV Canada show called McMorris & McMorris.

“They’re a perfect fit for the brand and the promotion because siblings are often the first people that have challenged us to do things we way not have wanted to do,” says Alvo. “Watching these two challenge each other to truth or dare really personifies the promotion itself.”

The challenge also invites consumers to join the game using the hashtag #5truthordare to be eligible to win a series of weekly prizes.
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Each of the approximately one-minute YouTube videos shows one of the brothers completing a dare. In one video entitled “Stairway to Heaven,” Craig carries people’s beach belongings up 121 stairs to complete the random act of kindness dare, while in another Mark is challenged to “photobomb” people taking photos at the beach.

Alvo says that Wrigley is “extremely impressed” with initial campaign results, with completion rates of between 7-14% for the YouTube videos– exceeding the industry average of 6-8%. While Alvo says it is premature to assess sales results stemming from the promotion, Wrigley has achieved 100% sell-through on all of its in-store displays.

The truth is that gum sales in Canada have been softening for several years. In an October report, research firm Euromonitor International predicted that 2014 sales would fall 2% in both value and volume, to $507 million and 16,000 tonnes respectively.

It was the category’s third straight year of decline, with Euromonitor attributing it to several factors, most notably increased competition from products that offer similar benefits in chewing and flavour, such as mints and “sugarized” confectionary products.
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Earlier this year, Wrigley cited declining gum sales in the decision to close its Toronto manufacturing plant –which first opened in 1963–in March of 2016. The closure will result in the loss of approximately 380 jobs according to media reports.

Wrigley and Cadbury Adams Canada (a unit of Mondelez International) control an estimated 97% of the Canadian gum market, with Wrigley accounting for half of sales through brands including Excel, Extra, Juicy Fruit and Doublemint, the latter two both over 100 years old.

Introduced in 2008, 5 Gum is a younger-skewing brand with a primary focus on teens and young adults. Its all-black packaging is designed to stand in stark contrast to the greens, blues and yellow that typically account for most gum products.

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