Grocery impulse buying is having a COVID-fueled identity crisis

Mint gum sales are down 30% YoY...because people aren’t “waiting in line” as much.


May 6, 2021

As if the pandemic hasn’t changed every facet of life, now it’s coming for our chewing gum. A recent Wired article details the industry’s recent decline, thanks in part to online grocery shopping.

While the pandemic has been a boom for other grocery staples, mint and gum sales are down 30% and 28% YoY respectively, according to Nielsen analysts.

You can’t impulse buy if you don’t wait in line

For candy pushers, waiting in line is sacred. It’s called “dwell time”: the more waiting, the more browsing packets of gum, mints, and candy bars — AKA making impulse buys.

Even with loosening restrictions, 61% of shoppers are doing more online grocery shopping than they did before the start of the pandemic. No shoppers inside = no lines = no last-scanned Trident gum cup.

But we’re talking candy people…

… they’re not ones to back down from a fight. Producers are exploring new ways to bring “impulsiveness” on- and off-line.

Hershey’s is trying out an “add a Hershey’s” button near online checkout. Orbit gum maker Mars Wrigley has experimented with a singing robot that parades the aisles displaying products. Remember: It’s only desperate if you don’t buy from the ‘bot.

Now all eyes are on vaccine rollout

With millions of Americans getting the jab inside drug and grocery stores, companies are banking on some celebratory impulse buys during the 15-minute wait required after receiving the vaccine.

This writer’s guiding impulse: Candy is dandy, but liquor is…

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