Rushikesh Aravkar
Rushikesh is Mintel's Food & Drink Analyst based in Mumbai. He is responsible for providing insights and fresh analysis on India's food and beverage market.

Gum confectionery launches in India are dominated by tooth-whitening and breath-freshening claims—one of the reasons why gum consumption is limited. In fact, Mintel research reveals that only a quarter of Indians have had chewing gum in the last three months.

Moreover, according to Mintel estimates, India’s per capita volume consumption of gum confectionery remains low compared to other APAC countries. This indicates a potential for companies to boost consumption by innovating with new flavours and fun packaging and marketing.

Flavour innovation is important

New product development in India’s gum confectionery segment is focused on mint flavours and oral health, which includes tooth-whitening and breath-freshening. There is an opportunity for brands to offer innovative flavour profiles while still offering breath-freshening benefits. For example, flavours such as cardamom, clove, cinnamon, fennel, anise seeds, and sesame seeds form part of traditional Indian mukhwas that are consumed as an after-meal mouth-freshener.

Furthermore, gum brands can take inspiration from the success of tangy flavours in the hard candy and ice cream categories by tapping into ethnic Indian flavours to make gum confectionery consumption more fun.

Bringing the fun back to chewing gum

Over the years, the gum category has lost the ‘fun’ and ‘cool’ elements that it used to be associated with in the 1990s and 2000s. The earliest gum brand in India, Big Fun, popularised the idea of blowing gum into bubbles in the 1980s. Moreover, it attracted children by printing Disney characters on the back of wrappers and giving away free collectable cards with cricketers on them.

While the 1990s saw multinationals such as Perfetti Van Melle and Wrigley offering freebies in the form of temporary tattoos and collectable Pokémon stickers in the early 2000s. The next innovation in the chewing gum category came in the form of jelly-centre gum in the late 2000s.

Over the last decade, the gum confectionery segment has focused on functional benefits around oral health and in this process the fun element of the category became neglected. Brands should draw lessons from the past and reintroduce innovations that worked previously. There is potential for brands to bring back the innovations that worked in the past and give this dull category a breath of fresh air.