ERLANGER, Ky. — It’s not only a COVID-19 health pandemic. It’s also a big or small business pandemic.
Many companies, including the makers of Airheads and Mentos in Northern Kentucky, have had to pivot to find ways to thrive.
“Snacking and treating is something that is a delighter for consumers particularly early on in the lockdown but still continuing,” said Sylvia Buxton, CEO, and President of Perfetti Van Melle North America.
Buxton describes it as a tale of two candies.
“Consumers are still looking for those little treats. So our Airheads brand is doing extremely well in that environment,” Buxton said.
But as Airheads are doing well, surprisingly gum and mint consumption are down globally across all brands. Buxton explains it’s a number of factors.
“With so many people wearing masks, staying socially distant, not driving their cars as much, that whole market is down. So we’ve had to think about different ways of communicating the relevance of Mentos gum and mints in the new environments,” Buxton said.
The Erlanger-based CEO said Mentos is their largest brand. She says in the early months of the pandemic, gum and mint consumption across all brands went down 50 percent. Now they’re at 25 percent.
A number of reasons being, more people started shopping online, along with social-distanced check-out lines that impacted sales but a key one involves masks.
“While wearing a mask it is a little bit more challenging and there is a lot of concern too about, ok so when I’m done with the gum disposal, you know it’s a little bit easier when you’re wearing a mask,” Buxton said.
Changing tactics to incorporate gum and mint in daily lives during the COVID-19 era is the solution tasked to the marketing team. They developed a campaign to match current lifestyles.
“Each gradual step towards a little bit more normal behavior also allows people to bring love to products back into their lives again,” Buxton said.
Buxton also puts emphasis on the need to socially and environmentally give back to the community during the pandemic.
As a result, the company donated $10,000 through the United Way that offers remote learning solutions to schools in Northern Kentucky.