Putting up a tent in front of a skyscraper: Trident gum take on Wrigley’s

Would you fancy the job of launching Trident gum into the UK, going head to head with Wrigley’s who have a 98% share of the market? Well the bloke who’s playing David against Wrigley’s Goliath is Simon Baldry, the MD of Cadbury’s in the UK. He wants to incite a "gum revolution", and says that product innovation is the way to get consumers to storm the barricades, commenting that:

"Wrigley is responsible for
the British market not growing, and there is a need for new types of
innovative products in the market.

However, the innovation he refers to is not immediately obvious in the Trident launch. The first two products are a liquid-filled gum called "Splash", and a "Soft" easily chewable gum. The packaging is a bit different, being the square shaped, flat card pack they use for Trident in the US.

The first problem is that Wrigley’s beat Trident Soft to market by launching Extra Ice with liquid burst last year. Second, launching a new brand is horribly expensive, especially when there is an incumbent brand with a dominant share of mind. The initial £10million budget risks being eaten up in no time. Like a hungry baby bird, Trident will soon be yelping, open-beaked to be fed more budget. 


However, the biggest issue is likely to be one of the less sexy but vitally important bits of the marketing mix that is often over-looked by marketing teams: distribution. Go into your local store and you’ll see the dominant omnipresence of Wrigley’s. This is an impulse business, where display is key. And Wrigley’s have spent decades of investment and effort building up their point-of-sale presence with counter units and secondary displays. Trident will have a tough job of getting noticed, putting up a Trident tent in front of the Wrigley skyscraper.

Some other examples where distribution and point-of-sale are key include:

– Soft drinks: Coke is sold in 6 or 7 different places in a supermarket, in addition to in stations, airports etc.

– Ice-cream: freezer real-estate is a key asset for Unilver, though the EU have forced them to open up cabinets to competition

-Airlines: you can have all the fancy ads you want, but landing rights at key airports are crucial

So, what you’re left with is emotional sizzle.There’s a wacky, tongue-in-cheek website
that is a mock
version of an internal newsletter. Quite clever, but it feels a bit
like an inside joke for marketing and advertising folk. Not sure if
this is going to appeal to the gum-chewing guy and girl in the street.
And we’ll have to wait to see the launch communication next Monday, but
based on advance reports, doesn’t it sound a but dodgy?:

Created by JWT, the ad will break on 12 February and
hopes to invoke the spirit of ‘revolutionary poets,’ inspired by the
recent rise of dub poetry.

Well, you have to credit Cadbury’s with stamina. I played a bit part in helping them make their last attempt to take on Wrigley’s with the 2003 launch of Trebor 24/7 that at least had innovative packaging, with a funky plastic, dispenser. But again, the biggest issue was getting distribution and visibility. The product struggled for 18 months before being axed. Since then Cadbury’s has bought Adams and with it the Trident brands. Time will tell if they have bought enough expertise to give Wrigley’s a bloody nose, never mind knock them over.