There’s no sugarcoating what’s been driving the mints and breath fresheners categories these days. According to Euromonitor, sugar-free sugar confectionery sales products grew 27.5% from 2002 to 2007 worldwide and are predicted to keep increasing until 2012. Power mints and sugarless gum, specifically, grew the most in 2007. This year, however, it’s all about the packaging.
According to IRI, next to sugarless gum, breath fresheners earned the most in sales from Jan. 2007 to Jan. 2008. While power mints will continue to be popular, exotic flavors and creative packaging designs will exert the most influence in the category. Although taste will always be the most important aspect of a product, companies are always striving to differentiate their products.
In 2007, Wrigley expanded on its original Extra mint gum by creating Extra Supermint with a longer-lasting flavor. Sugar-free gum is a constant trend because of its oral benefits.
“Chewing gum stimulates the most important natural defense against tooth decay: saliva. The partnership between chewing gum and saliva creates a powerful team that contributes to dental health by helping to reduce cavities, neutralize plaque acids, remineralize enamel to strengthen teeth and wash away food particles,” says Jennifer Luth, marketing manager of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. “Chewing gum has also been proven to help reduce stress and increase focus and concentration.”
This year, Wrigley plans to launch Altoids Créme de Menthe as well as Wrigley’s stick gums, such as Spearmint and Doublemint, in a Slim Pack. The new package will hold 15 sticks of gum and fit more easily into pockets, purses and more.
A relatively new product, Wrench Mints, has marched its way onto shelves in the stores of automotive, hardware, home improvement and other industries. Designed by Eddy Rubin, ceo and president of Wrench Mints, along with partner Johnny Alper, cfo and vice president, Wrench Mints are an innovative way to “repair” breath. The tins, along with the mints, are shaped like wrenches. The mints come in “an absolutely addictive cinnamon and a fresh invigorating perfect peppermint,” Rubin says. The company will also be introducing a new flavor: Spearmint. Rubin commented that he believes the mints category “is expanding, but in a very small way and you have to have something completely unique for it to really break through.”
Another packaging twist comes from Webb Candy. In the spring, the company will introduce its clever, convenient item, Fresh Breath to Go. “Fresh Breath to Go is an innovative packaging concept to package gum and mints,” says Paul Henson, sales and marketing director of Webb Candy. The container features a refillable, removable dispenser top so that consumers can carry their gum or mints with them and leave the larger container at home or in the car. All consumers have to do is turn the package upside down, twist the lid and remove the top.
Webb Candy is also diversifying its packaging by offering mint tins designed for “every holiday, every season, every occasion, every reason,” says Henson. These mints, called Impulse Mints also feature destinations throughout the country. The tins are not only a great container for the tasty mints that come inside, they are also a good reminder of upcoming holidays, occasions, trips, etc.
A company making its own trends is Oral Fixation. “In the mass category we first saw innovation like breath strips and gel pearls … Now we are beginning to see trends we believe we had a hand in starting with more exotic flavors and sleeker more lifestyle-based designs and marketing,” says Delpha Ramos, v.p. of business development at Oral Fixation. The company has recently come out with four new flavors: Antioximints (Green Tea), Fabulous Fruit, Mimosa Mint and Jasmints. All of Oral Fixation’s mints are sugar-free except for one, the just released Night Light variety.
“Night Light (Caffeinated Chai) contains caffeine to stimulate the senses and perk you up while freshening your breath with spicy chai. Chai is our only non sugar-free flavor using brown sugar for flavor,” Ramos states.
Oral Fixation mints have only two calories and help people “satisfy common oral fixations like smoking, over-eating and nail biting,” Ramos says.
Tins continue to gain favor as the ideal carrier for mints. Not only is the packaging used to hold mints; it is also used as a trendy container for many other items. “Our sleek tins were inspired by 1920’s cigarette cases and were designed to fit anything business/credit card-sized so they make great wallets after the mints are gone,” Ramos says.
With a 0.12% increase in sales from Jan. 2007 to Jan. 2008, Binaca has been holding strong. Binaca has been around since 1966 and still remains a popular and convenient way to freshen breath. “We’re constantly brainstorming and developing new/innovative ways to push the envelope and take Binaca to the next level,” says Steven Scheyer, ceo of Binaca/Ascendia Brands. The company has recently developed four new flavors: Chocolate Mint, Cinnamint, Mojito Mint and Tropical Splash. All of Binaca’s flavors are sugar and calorie-free. Binaca Fast Blast comes in a pocket-sized container with a flip-top cap for a quick and easy solution to bad breath.
Hint Mint managing partner Cooper Bates believes that mints should be accessories. The designs and styles of Hint Mint tins allow them to be just that.
“For years…mints were thought to be really the simple functioning products that nobody really put much thought into… We’d like to think that we are the ones that sort of helped people redefine that image and started changing things from being simple, functional aids to accessories,” says Bates. Hint Mint’s yearly “accessory” is its Artist Series, which features limited edition mint tins with artwork signed by the artist. This series is only sold in non-food retail stores.
Along with cell phones, purses and MP3 players getting smaller, Hint Mint has decided to run with this trend and introduce its Petit line of mints. The mints come in a very small, brightly colored pop-top tin.
“Mints are a reflection of your personality,” Bates comments. People should show off their mints like they would show off a watch, or a nice pair of shoes, he says. The Petit line and Artist Series mints accomplish that task, along with Hint Mint’s Breast Cancer and AIDS Awareness tins. When the Breast Cancer and AIDS Awareness tins are purchased, $0.25 per tin will be donated to local organizations. Although mints and breath fresheners categories are not expanding as rapidly as in the past, “there’s still a lot of life in it,” Bates says. “People are still very curious.”