The ongoing mandates of social distancing, face masks and working from home have led to people consuming less gum and mints than prior to the pandemic.
Mondelez International, maker of Trident and Stride, reported that net revenue for its gum and candy category dropped 22% in North America to $182 million for the quarter ending June 30. The company pinned the drop on fewer people being out and about since the Covid-19 outbreak, leading to a decline in trips to the convenience store. Impulse buying, after all, isn’t quite the same online as while waiting in the checkout lane.
And convenience stores have seen fewer customers lately. Throughout April, for instance, foot traffic at 7-Eleven was down more than 40% compared to the same time last year, according to analytics firm Placer.ai, which generates location data from mobile devices.
“Gum is a little bit on a downtrend at the moment,” said Luca Zaramella, Mondelez’s CFO, during an earnings call with analysts on Tuesday.
Mondelez is far from alone in its struggle. Earlier in the crisis, during the four-week period ending April 11, year-over-year gum sales were down 30.9%, while mint sales were down 35.7%, according to in-store figures from Nielsen.
Last week during a prerecorded earnings call, Hershey’s CEO Michele Buck said the company’s refreshment category, which includes Ice Breakers and Breath Savers, had declined between 20% and 25% in June as the need for “breath freshening” has decreased.
“We expect category trends to remain challenged until social distancing guidelines relax,” she said.
In April, when Hershey’s noted that demand for its gum and mint products had dropped by as much as 50% in recent weeks, a spokesperson told Adweek that one of the key reasons people tend to purchase gum is for “social confidence with others.” With orders to shelter in place, that incentive to buy gum had waned.
To help drive sales, in May Hershey’s Ice Breakers debuted an ad campaign encouraging people to #MintBeforeYouMask. The 15-second spot thanks people for covering their nose and mouth, but also advises them to eliminate unpleasant “mask breath” by popping a mint before masking up.
All this, however, doesn’t necessarily mean Americans are satisfied sitting at home with bad breath and poor oral hygiene. Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson reported that despite facing an overall loss for the second quarter of 2020, sales of its Listerine mouthwash have been strong.