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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lotte finds Fit's what kids choose to chew


Staff writer

Fit's, a new gum on the market, is selling like hot cakes and beyond the expectations of manufacturer Lotte Co. and its rivals in the industry.

News photo
Pick and chews: Lotte Co.'s new Fit's gum, with its easy-to-open package, is proving a hit. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

The key to its success is probably the weaker build of young generations, industry sources say. Young people don't like food with a tough texture and the new gum is softer than conventional varieties.

The fashionable, easy-to-open package as well as aggressive marketing via television commercials and YouTube have also boosted the sales of Fit's, which comes in three flavors: citrus, peppermint and mixed berry. In just four months, more than 30 million packs have been sold, Lotte said.

A new gum product is usually considered a big hit if 4 million packs are sold for one flavor over a year, a Lotte spokesman said.

Because of its popularity, the company was not able to keep up with market demand, Lotte said.

"This situation is pretty rare. As for gum, most companies prepare enough stock before selling," said Nobuyuki Harikae, senior director of the Chewing Gum Association of Japan.

The product's success, however, has been attributed to good planning.

Lotte carried out an advance survey and found that young people do not like to chew gum because it tires their jaws.

Children prefer softer food and tend to avoid eating something tough. According to the gum association, kids chew 620 times per meal, only half of the 1,420 times of the prewar period.

Lotte officials also laid the popularity of Fit's to a clever packaging and marketing strategy. In a Fit's TV commercial, popular celebrities dance with funny moves to a comical song, and Lotte held a dance contest on YouTube asking people to dance the same way as the stars.

Participants who got the most page-views on YouTube from April 14 to May 11 won prizes, and the top prize was ¥1 million in cash and enough Fit's, according to Lotte, to chew for a year.

"The Fit's commercial is different from other products, as it shows the joy of chewing, with song and dance, rather than just the product itself. It is the first time the company held a dance contest in a commercial," Lotte's newsletter about Fit's says.

In addition, the flip-top pack offers easy access to the gum, and the wrapper comes off almost automatically.

A Lotte public relations official said the easy-to-open pack is handy for people to pass the gum around.

The company said it aims to sell 120 million packs a year.



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