Yup, this is for real. It was not launched on April 1st. Vicks, the P&G owned cough and colds brand, have launched a .... chewing gum.
Vicks for many of us still means VapoRub. The sticky, smelly stuff you rub on your chest and back to unblock your nose. So the idea of Vicks chewing gum is not very appealing. The pharmacist I asked about it had the same first reaction.
You can watch the TV ad here.
Here are a few issues to consider:
1. Trial = brand equity x product power:
Having relevant brand equities can help people try a new product as they trust the brand. But "product power" is also important, if not more so. After all, pianos and motorbikes have little in common, yet Yamaha happily so loads of both of these.
In the Vicks gum case the brand equity advantage is at best neutral. Yes for nose clearing, but ugh! for taste appeal, which is a key part of eating gum. The desription I found on a chemist's website didn't help: "The crunchy white layer contains a high level of arvensis mint that instantly gives you an intense feeling of cool breathing. The smooth blue gum layer contains Vapocrystals". Mmmm...
2. Re-purchase = value proposition vs. competition:
You might buy an extension once, but will you re-buy it regularly? This dends on the value propostion versus existing products = price x product quality. Problem here is that I couldn't find any of the product to try, so I can't comment.
But, what we do know is that Wrigley's already have a big and pretty succesful product in this space: Airwaves.
3. Marketing mix and investment:
And as I covered in an earlier post on the UK launch of Trident gum, Wrigley's are a formidable competitor, especially in terms of the way that dominate the point-of-sale where gum is sold. With the backing of Cadbury's and major investment Trident have managed to take a c.15-20% of UK gum sales. But P&G will struggle to get any visibility in the places gum is sold.
And how much sustained investment will they really put behind this new product? It wasn't even on the brand's website when I checked. It has had some TV and poster support, but for how long?
Net, it seems unlikely to work. But perhaps P&G know something we don't. Its the most data-based consumer goods company on the planet, and they wouldn't launch without a rock solid business case...so, watch this space!