It may be a buyer’s market for pianos in China, but apparently chewing gum is another story. As reported by Kathy Chu and Laurie Burkitt in The Wall Street Journal (2/26/14), sales of chewing gum "grew nearly 14% in China last year to $2.8 billion, nearly double the level of 2009." The growth is partly attributed to "rising disposable incomes," but "aggressive marketing of gum as a way to improve oral health, increase concentration and lower stress levels is also winning over consumers." Ad spending on gum "has more than doubled" to about $1.24 billion over the past two years.
One television commercial has a restaurant patron complaining to a chef that the crispy fried noodles "could break his teeth. She tells him his teeth aren’t good, and offers him a pack of Extra gum, which Wrigley promotes as ‘caring about teeth, caring even more about you.’" Other consumers are finding their own food-related reasons to chew gum. "Chinese food has so much garlic," says Qu Zhu, an investment banker. "I need to freshen my breath after eating." Cherry Dai, a consultant, meanwhile says, "Girls want to eat gum to stay slim."
However, Zhang Lu, 22, doesn’t quite see it that way; she says "she’s afraid that chewing gum will build up her jaw muscles and make her face look fat." Wrigley’s Michael Yeung responds that her concern is unfounded that "there’s no science" to support her fears. To make gum more appealing, Wrigley and others have added new "flavors such as grapefruit, cucumber and tea." The upside is considerable, as the average Chinese "chewed $1.80 worth of gum last year." Britons chewed four times as much, Americans six times, and Japanese 6.5 times.