On December 29, 2019, a Stride Gum fan tweeted that they couldn’t find their favorite flavor. The customer got a response via Stride’s official Twitter handle. And the revert provided that person with a link to the product locator.
Little did people know that it would be the last time they’ll hear from the brand on a social media platform.
When consumers started realizing that Stride Gum was hard to find near them. The internet was stormed with a big question, “Did Stride Gum go out of business?”.
Fearing the brand will stop making more, some customers even started hoarding all the stride gum flavors. There has been confusion among people as to who owns Stride. Whether it’s Cadbury, Kraft Foods or Mondelēz International.
In 2006, Stride Gum made its debut at the All Candy Expo. It was made by Cadbury and owned by the parent company Mondelēz International. Mondelēz International was formerly known as Kraft Foods till 2012.
People liked to chew on gum long before Stride made its entry. Hence, the makers of this chewy snack introduced a lot of interesting flavors namely Forever Fruit, Nonstop Mint, Spearmint, Sweet Berry, Sweet Cinnamon, Sweet Peppermint, Uber Bubble, Winterblue, and Mystery Flavor.
A couple of product range stood out from their lineup. The first was Stride Mystery Gum and the second was Stride Shift. Both the products packed multiple flavors and changed taste upon continuous chewing.
Stride’s long-lasting flavor coupled with the fact that it was sugar-free became its USP. It was huge at the time of its arrival so much so that it raked in a ton of sales and slowly started making a dent in Wrigley’s market share.
Why Was Stride Gum Popular?
The popularity of this gum lies in the genius of its marketing and its proprietary artificial sweetener called ‘mannitol’ which helped the gum retain its flavors for a long time.
It subsequently led the brand to promote it as “The Ridiculously Long Lasting Gum”.
An advertising firm based out of New York (J. Walter Thompson) was selected to design the product’s launch campaign and TV commercials down the line.
The company did a phenomenal job at generating a positive buzz around the latest entrant. These ad campaigns used hyperbole in their favor extremely well.
The advertisements exaggerated that the chewing gum’s flavor lasts so long that no one came to buy them again.
In one of the most popular commercials, the CEO of Stride himself begs people to buy a new pack and spit out the old ones.
A series of work-related ads, with a comedic tone, was produced. And again asked its consumers to get rid of the old gum to chew a new pellet, otherwise, the Stride employees will come and get them.
SUGGESTED: Vault Soda Update
Stride Gum’s Marketing Genius
Another marketing gimmick used to promote the product was “mad intense gum”. To match the high-octane energy of the product, Stride collaborated with American skydiver Luke Aikins.
In this high stake 2006 event, Aikins was supposed to jump off a cliff (atop Simi Valley, California) from a mind-blowing height of 25,000 feet.
If that alone was not enough to give you a chill down the spine, he had to free-fall and perfectly land onto a two-tiered net that was 100-by-100 feet in size. To top it off, he nosedived without the safety of a parachute.
Since the collaboration was a literal suicide mission both for the stunt performer and the company. A lot of brainstorming was done to minimize the risks.
Laura Henderson, the former Global Head of Content & Media Monetization said the idea was pitched to Stride 18 months prior to the live telecast by an ad agency named Amusement Park.
Back then, Mondelēz was looking to launch Stride and this stunt proposal was a perfect fit for the brand’s identity, ‘mad intense’.
For a food company to produce a TV show, that too a live one was unheard of. The sheer audacity of Mondelēz was lauded by their fans as well as their critics alike.
Aikins plunged and landed safely. Thus, creating a world record for jumping without a parachute from a height of 25,000 feet. This synergy was the result of one and a half years of meticulous planning and hard work.
This special was aired live on Fox broadcast network in the US, and it was also made available on YouTube pay-per-view. The program was called “Heaven Sent”.
The program garnered a massive 1 Billion media impressions and it amassed $14 Million in revenue (read more).
Stride really left no stone unturned as the product was heavily marketed in TV shows as well. Most prominent was Smallville, the soap opera based on one of the most popular Superheroes ever, DC’s Superman.
The mark of good product placement is when the brand seamlessly blends into the world of a story while making its presence apparent.
But the 13th episode in Season 7 (named Hero) is often mocked by its viewers as a 40-minute-long commercial for Stride.
As one of the key cast members develops a superpower of stretching his body to inhuman proportions due to prolonged consumption of Stride gum which was laced with Kryptonite (a powerful stone).
Looking at Stride’s aforementioned marketing strategies, it’s safe to say subtlety is not the brand’s cup of tea.
Is Stride Gum Going Out of Business?
The Stride Gum is not really going out of business. It’s having a hard time maintaining sales and year-on-year growth.
Since 201o, the brand was aware that it had to come up with a solution to improve its sales figure. Thus, rebranding and the introduction of new flavors began.
Plenty of products and renewed flavors were introduced. The lineup of the 2.0 series upgraded pre-existing flavors.
And Stride Spark was promoted as a pack of gum with the benefits of supplements as the label claimed it had 25 percent of recommended daily dose of Vitamin B6 & B12.
All these herculean efforts brought no significant changes in sales. And that’s when it became apparent that the market for chewing gum is on a steady decline in the western hemisphere, especially in North America and Western Europe.
And this steep decline was due to multiple factors. The gum was previously a thing to do, teens would share it with each other. It was very much a part of American culture.
With time, it fell out of fashion, and to make things worse a growing stigma was associated with consuming gum as it was considered a public nuisance since it leads to littering.
The big reason though is the shrinking percentage of smokers in the country. One of the prominent reasons for consuming gum is to regain fresh breath.
And smoking is not as fashionable as it was in the 60s. In 2005, out of 100 people, 21 (20.9%) smoked, that figure has dropped to 13 out of 100 (12.5%) in 2020.
Previously trips to supermarkets and mom-and-pop shops meant standing in a queue and waiting for your turn at the cashier’s counter.
This is where the gum is strategically placed right before the billing counter, where one would not think twice before throwing a couple of packs in their cart.
But with smartphone and social media addiction everyone everywhere is simply hooked to their devices. And too busy to notice the neatly stacked sugar pellets (read more).
Online shopping and the pandemic also proved to be a major blow to the industry’s growth. Because gums and candies are something you seldom add to your shopping list unless you’re a regular consumer.
Why Is Stride Gum Hard to Find?
Since the Americans stopped munching gums like they used to do. It was time for the company to set up shop somewhere else.
The organization did feel a dip in sales a couple of years of its launch. And thus the expansion in Canada (in January 2008) happened. But a similar trend was noticed in the entire North American continent as well as Western Europe.
Thus, the strategic move was to take Stride’s business to the South Asian markets and the biggest attraction in the sub-continent was China. 1 out of 3 cigarettes smoked in the world is from China.
The developing nation’s 50 percent of the male population smokes and only 2 percent of women prefer smoking.
Including people from all genders, the total smoking population shoots up to 300 million. This is more than twice the size of the USA’s total smoking population.
Contrary to what one witnessed in the western hemisphere, the Chinese citizenry considers smoking a part of their social fabric. Offering your friends and acquintances at a social gathering is a sign of respect and camaraderie among men.
Unlike other nations, China seems to be a treasure chest open to be exploited. It’s not going to be challenged anytime soon as the country is not taking active measures to fix the smoking epidemic.
According to Geoffrey Fong, Head of the International Tobacco Control Project at the University of Waterloo, the Chinese government is not taking stringent measures as tobacco production is state-owned.
This shows there is a clear conflict of interest. And the lethargic efforts in the anti-tobacco campaign led by the establishment are abhorrent.
Though a serious national health scare is looming over the Chinese government’s head. But this is not going to change as the state earns around 7 – 10 percent of its annual revenue from tobacco sales.
Stride saw a huge potential in this market but Mars’ Wrigley had already captured the market. Wrigley’s had a massive 45% market share when Stride entered the Chinese market back in 2012.
But by 2014, Stride was able to gain a significant 8 percent market share. As of now, Mondelēz International is in the second spot in the Chewing Gum category in China and across the world.
Mondelēz has surpassed Orion Group and Perfetti Van Melle Group with the help of Stride. And it continues to flourish in the international market.
RELATED: What happened to Pokemon Duel
How and Where to Buy Stride Gum?
The gum brand has not given an official statement on whether it is still in production in the USA or not.
But the Stride Gum can be found online. On e-commerce websites like Amazon and Walmart, one can buy their preferred flavors.
As the company heavily focuses on global markets it is safe to assume with limited production it is cost-efficient for the brand to make the gum available direct to consumers only.
Which explains the lack of availability of the product in retail stores on a national scale.