Wrigley’s new 5 gum connects with young chewers

CHICAGO Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.’s new 5 gum has captured more than 6 percent of the national sugarless gum market since it was launched in July, according to data from market research firm ACNielsen Corp., with the gum’s sleek packaging and flavors with names like Cobalt and Rain catching on with teenagers and young adults. And the brand is continuing to pick up momentum.

The enthusiasm for the company’s 5 gum shows Wrigley is still able to cook up popular new products. Regardless of the line’s success, Wrigley has been unable to slow the advance of British rival Cadbury Schweppes PLC in North America, or reverse Wrigley’s market share losses on its home turf.

“[5 has] captured a decent chunk of the gum market in a short amount of time and that is great,” Alexia Howard, an analyst in New York with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., told Crain’s.Chicago Business “But 5 hasn’t been as successful as Wrigley might hope because it hasn’t really taken a bite out of Cadbury like it was designed to do.”

Chicago-based Wrigley’s share of fast-growing U.S. sugarless gum sales fell to 56.5 percent from 61.0 percent in the last two years, as Cadbury’s rose to 40.7 percent from 37.9 percent on the strength of brands such as Stride, according to Nielsen data Howard provided. Those trends have continued since 5’s launch. To ad insult to injury, 5 appears to be taking business away from Wrigley’s Orbit line, which Howard believes is due to Wrigley’s decision to focus its advertising on 5. A Wrigley spokesman said Orbit remains the top-selling gum in the United States.

The company is planning new products and advertising for both the 5 and Orbit brands in 2008.

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