RE: Breath Mints: A Hot War for America's Cool Mouths

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Feb 26 2002 - 08:49:57 GMT

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "RE: stammbaum der menschen"

    Received: by id IAA01416 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Tue, 26 Feb 2002 08:58:23 GMT
    Message-ID: <>
    From: Vincent Campbell <>
    To: "''" <>
    Subject: RE: Breath Mints: A Hot War for America's Cool Mouths
    Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 08:49:57 -0000
    X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
    X-Filter-Info: UoS MailScan 0.1 [D 1]
    Precedence: bulk

    Slzberger must have friends at pfizer for this piece of corporate fluff.


    > ----------
    > From: Wade T.Smith
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2002 16:34 PM
    > To:;
    > Subject: Fwd: Breath Mints: A Hot War for America's Cool Mouths
    > Breath Mints: A Hot War for America's Cool Mouths
    > MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. -- On a wintry Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Richard W.
    > D'Souza, the vice president for oral health care of Pfizer , stood in
    > front of a shelf stacked with gallon jugs labeled Artificial Saliva and
    > Pooled Human Saliva, and spoke about the art of killing.
    > "They are nasty little buggers, and they should die," Dr. D'Souza said,
    > offering a look through a microscope at a dish of proliferating microbes
    > swabbed from a colleague's mouth. "We have learned how to get rid of
    > them, how to annihilate them, how to kill the wild germs in their
    > natural habitat."
    > Dr. D'Souza is the General Patton of bad breath. And his fervor is not
    > out of place. As the mere breath mint becomes a fashion accessory and a
    > statement of identity, the $3 billion fresh-breath industry is
    > exploding, pitting giant corporations against one another in the race to
    > freshen gamy American mouths.
    > In the last 18 months, major mint and gum manufacturers - Kraft Foods,
    > Pfizer, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, Hershey Foods and Playtex Products
    > - have introduced breath-freshening products and repackaged old ones to
    > refashion the humble breath mint or mouth spray.
    > At Pfizer, Dr. D'Souza and Dr. Pauline C. Pan, a senior microbiologist,
    > supervised the development of the Listerine PocketPaks, a stamp-size
    > container that dispenses strips that look like murky-green Scotch tape
    > and dissolve on the tongue. The PocketPaks can be bought with a matching
    > key chain and will be giveaways at the Oscars.
    > The appeal of the mint as accessory stretches across demographic lines.
    > Where bad breath was once considered the province of old men with dental
    > problems and cigar habits, it is now being peddled to the public as an
    > affliction that affects all ages, from 8 to 80.
    > At the same time, the pop-cultural implications of a freshly minty mouth
    > have shifted significantly for Generation X, from the happy-go-lucky
    > innocence of a Dentyne smile to more salacious connotations -
    > highlighted by Monica Lewinsky's descriptions of the intimate effects of
    > Altoids. Elizabeth Wenner, a spokeswoman for Kraft, which manufactures
    > Altoids, said its product had altered the landscape.
    > "Altoids changed many Americans' perception of what a mint could be,
    > namely, an essential lifestyle accessory," she said. "Eating and sharing
    > Altoids became somewhat of a social ritual, particularly among young
    > adults, predominantly in urban areas."
    > Beyond Generation X, manufacturers are playing on the baby boomers' lust
    > for self-improvement by packaging mints to highlight their therapeutic
    > uses. (Wrigley has even introduced a minty antacid gum called Surpass.)
    > And manufacturers are using novel packaging - mints on key chains, mints
    > in containers that make sound effects, mint strips that dissolve on the
    > tongue - to market to children and young adults.
    > But the obsession with fresh breath is not all the boomers' doing. The
    > industry began to grow after the InterScan Corporation in California
    > developed a device called the halimeter in 1992, which measures foul
    > breath, or halitosis. (InterScan normally makes instruments that detect
    > toxic gases in factories.) Armed with the new research the halimeter
    > provided, manufacturers went nuts.
    > Continuing a five-year growth trend, sales of breath-freshening mints,
    > gums and lozenges were up 15.3 percent in 2001, said Susan Fussell, a
    > spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association. That rate far
    > outpaced sales of chocolate, sweet chewing gum and other candies, which
    > grew by 2.9 percent.
    > "The biggest trend today is breath freshening," Ms. Fussell said.
    > "You're seeing a proliferation, especially in the last year and a half,
    > in anything that is going to make your breath minty, minty fresh.
    > Everyone is rushing to get something out."
    > Packaging is crucial. If consumers shun the Binaca Blast atomizer, with
    > its geeky 1970's evocations of John Travolta's Casanova role on "Welcome
    > Back, Kotter," they can try Binaca Power Blasts mints, which come in a
    > cartoonish tin that makes a loud Snapplesque popping noise when opened
    > or closed, and the slogan reads "Fresh Breath Is Just a Click Away!"
    > "It's become trendy," Ms. Fussell said. "Who has the latest mint? Who
    > has the newest container on the playground? And that expands into
    > Generation X, with Kate Spade mints and Victoria's Secret selling
    > lipstick-shaped mints."
    > David A. Shore, a Harvard marketing professor, said the PocketPaks could
    > have been a huge failure.
    > "Consumers have greater trust issues with products that come into
    > contact with the skin or the mouth," he said. "But the beauty of the
    > PocketPaks is that they did not stray too far from the parent brand,
    > Listerine. They developed a kind of mystique and maintained a level of
    > comfort at the same time."
    > Searching for that same magical combination, the long-conservative
    > Wrigley company, under a new chief executive, has introduced Orbit, an
    > intensely flavored pellet gum packaged in a credit-card-size plastic
    > case designed to appeal to young adults. The company revamped
    > Winterfresh - which it now distributes at events like the MTV Music
    > Video Awards and the Extreme Games - and Big Red, dumping the jingle
    > "kiss a little longer" in favor of the musings of Clyde, a hipster who
    > dispenses fashion advice.
    > Competing against Wrigley is Hershey Foods, which bought Carefree from
    > Nabisco in December 2000 and revamped it as the hipper, kid-friendly
    > Carefree Koolerz.
    > Responding to a post-Altoids consumer preference for nasal-flaring
    > flavors, Amurol, a Wrigley division, introduced Everest, a pellet gum
    > that tastes like Altoids, looks like Altoids and comes in a tin like
    > Altoids. Battling back, Kraft Foods added new extra-strong flavors to
    > its Altoids line.
    > And last October, after five years of research and development, Pfizer
    > introduced the PocketPaks. The inch-square plastic box dispenses sheets
    > of Listerine distilled onto a substance called pullulan, a carbohydrate
    > matrix that dissolves on contact with saliva.
    > The strips, which are about as intensely flavored as Altoids, have
    > become something of a fashion necessity. The PocketPaks sponsored four
    > parties before the Emmy Awards, and Pfizer distributed them at the
    > Golden Globes, to modeling agencies, to the Mets and to National
    > Basketball Association players, following the marketing principle that
    > if cool people are seen using this product, everybody else will catch
    > on. Pfizer plans more parties timed to the Oscars.
    > To older consumers, it can remain Listerine, just in a different version
    > of the dependable medicinal liquid that lived in grandmother's medicine
    > chest, while to new consumers, it is a toy, packaged in a new way
    > subconsciously evocative of the illicit - LSD stamp sheets, for
    > instance - or the sacred, like communion wafers, Mr. Shore of Harvard
    > said.
    > "You can't ignore the Freudian aspect of it, and the novel oral
    > sensation," he added.
    > But PocketPaks do not play everywhere, Dr. D'Souza noted. "The French
    > think we're foolish," he said.
    > Peter J. Brown, a medical anthropologist at Emory University, said
    > Americans have long been ridiculed for their obsession with fresh breath.
    > "Americans believe that the natural tendency of the body is to decay,
    > and we have to ward that off constantly, to the point of obsession," he
    > said. "But people do tend to think of fresh breath as an indicator of
    > good health. We perceive having bad breath as unattractive, as the
    > opposite of beauty."
    > Whether or not PocketPaks make consumers feel beautiful, the sales
    > volume is beating Altoids: 54.5 million units in 2001 in supermarkets,
    > chain stores and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart, according to
    > Information Resources , which tracks consumer buying. Altoids, by
    > contrast, sold 49.4 million units. PocketPaks have yet to beat the still
    > dominant Tic Tac, which sold 95 million units last year. But there is
    > room for growth: unit sales for Tic Tac were down by 7.2 percent, and
    > sales for Altoids were down by 4 percent.
    > The notion for the PocketPaks originated in Japan, where pullulan is
    > used in candy and also as an edible paper to wrap candies and mints.
    > The first time Dr. D'Souza tried it, he knew it needed refinement for
    > the American palate.
    > "Ick," he said. "I spat it out. It tasted like paper."
    > But he noticed that it dissolved quickly on the tongue.
    > "We had to figure out how to make it appealing to American consumers,"
    > he said. "It had to dissolve fast and be pleasurable, convenient and
    > innovative." Dr. D'Souza and Dr. Pan played around with the basic
    > carbohydrate film, changing flavors and adding surfactants to make it
    > break up faster on the tongue. For five years, sensory experts, market
    > researchers, dentists, microbiologists, physical chemists, physical
    > chemical engineers and manufacturing experts worked out the kinks.
    > Wes Pringle, the group marketing director of oral care at Pfizer,
    > supervised the design of the package, which he called particularly
    > important. It had to be discreet and portable, he explained, and
    > extremely small, which distinguished it from other products on the
    > market. "In the end, when we found that the product could fit into the
    > small, front `fifth pocket' of a pair of jeans, we knew we were
    > successful," he said.
    > Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
    > ==============================================================This was
    > distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    The University of Stirling is a university established in Scotland by
    charter at Stirling, FK9 4LA.  Privileged/Confidential Information may
    be contained in this message.  If you are not the addressee indicated
    in this message (or responsible for delivery of the message to such
    person), you may not disclose, copy or deliver this message to anyone
    and any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is
    prohibited and may be unlawful.  In such case, you should destroy this
    message and kindly notify the sender by reply email.  Please advise
    immediately if you or your employer do not consent to Internet email
    for messages of this kind.  Opinions, conclusions and other
    information in this message that do not relate to the official
    business of the University of Stirling shall be understood as neither
    given nor endorsed by it.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Feb 26 2002 - 09:08:21 GMT