Gum took a significant hit during 2020 due to limited impulse purchase occasions as Taiwanese consumers remained wary of spending too long in public during the pandemic, despite lack of a lockdown due to the low number of cases and deaths. Furthermore, citizens are required to wear masks on public transportation and inside some public spaces such as libraries, museums, or government offices.
Wrigley’s Airwaves is predicted to retain its overall dominance of gum in 2021 due to promoting its functionality as a refreshing option. While it traditionally focuses on white collar workers looking to stay awake during meetings or drivers who need to keep alert in traffic, recent campaigns and communication strategies have turned their attention to younger consumers, incorporating an element of fun, in an attempt to widen the brand’s target audience.
While demand for gum has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, innovation has continued, with dominant bubble gum brand Play Gum from local player President Candy Mfg Corp continuing to invest in the category with its new product Max Cool. In addition to launching new flavours, the product also has a new packaging design, which follows the previous baseball element but with a more cartoon-like image to attract consumers’ attention.
Gum is mostly purchased for impulse consumption and convenience stores will remain the dominant distribution channel for this reason. Although life in Taiwan is likely to return to normal from 2022 onwards depending on the threat level of the virus, gum will continue to struggle as many citizens are likely to continue to wear masks as a precautionary measure.
Chewing gum has always focused on functional communication, such as Airwave's boosting element or Extra's fresh breath. However, many younger consumers do not always resonate with the hard-working image associated with functional gum.
Despite health concerns relating to sugar confectionery, certain products from this category are likely to offer competition to gum; for instance, older consumers are more likely to be attracted to the breath-freshening attributes of power mints, while younger consumers continue to be strong growth drivers of pastilles, gums, jellies and chews. Compared to gum that needs to be disposed of after the flavour has waned, pastilles and gums also offers a chewing sensation before being swallowed.
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