Due to the ease of administration and widespread familiarity with the format, gum can present an extremely attractive means of oral drug delivery for many consumers. However, despite being a seemingly perfect fit for a wide range of health-promoting concepts, gaining consumer acceptance on the marketplace represents another barrier entirely for medicated gum. Thanks to its Health in Gum range of products, Cafosa has expertise in bridging the gap in this sector. It explains the hurdles that need to be overcome in order to create an effective, consumer-palatable product.
People around the world are increasingly conscious about taking charge of their health. This is the main reason why consumers are focusing their preferences on over-the-counter remedies rather than prescription products. The number of over-the-counter offerings has grown, and many different formats and concepts can now be found. One of these formats is medicated confectionery, such as chews and gum. According to Leatherhead Food Research, the category of medicated confectionery has raised its value in recent years; it is currently worth $4.1 billion, and it looks as if it still has more growth potential.
Parallel to the growth of the over-the-counter segment, other consumer health segments - such as vitamin and food supplements, weight management and sports nutrition - have been growing too. The possibilities are unlimited: vitamins, minerals, berry extracts, tea, antihistaminic, antiemetic and so on.
A long list of concepts could be attractive when delivered in the form of gum. It is clear that gum is a more palatable oral drug delivery system because it offers good sensorial experience to the consumer. It is easier and 'friendlier' to take, for example, as it is not necessary to take it with water and does not need to be swallowed. Consumers find added value in these advantages, which are markedly different from other types of oral drug delivery systems.
Although the list of possible medicated gum developments is large, not all of them will have the same potential in the market. Cafosa has identified two basic variables that affect this potential: the release profile of the active ingredient in gum in front of other delivery systems; and consumer and social acceptance of the active ingredient.
The first variable is quite easy to measure - it just takes some analysis to see the technical feasibility of the product. For instance, let's use the case of one product in Cafosa's brand for medicated gum developments, Health in Gum.
For Health in Gum Slimming, the product has different active ingredients. The main one is garcinia cambogia extract HCA. This extract is known to aid weight management and reduce fat storage capacity. After some research, it was proved that HCA's release profile is high: the study showed that after 30 minutes of chewing, 92% of the HCA was released.
The second variable is a little bit more complex to measure and is the real key to market success. When marketing a gum development, it is important to know that gum has a strong perception as a 'just for fun' product, so adding wellness properties to gum will require communication and marketing focus to help consumers understand these added benefits.
After some qualitative studies with consumers on the topic of medicated gum, there are two factors that have been identified that contribute to gaining consumer acceptance. Firstly, there is the social recognition of the active ingredient - whether or not it is widely known - which makes the difference in terms of rapid acceptance of the product in the market. If the active ingredient is well known, the idea appeals to consumers quickly. If it is not, the concept causes doubts and suspicion, and consumers may be reluctant to trust in its effect or will become suspicious about secondary effects.
Secondly, if an ingredient has rapid and noticeable effects, this will make it easier for it to succeed. Medicated gum as a solution for obvious problems gains market purchase and acceptance faster than gum with less tangible effects. Consumers want and expect reliability and effectiveness.
For instance, medicated gum for mouth ulcers, coughs or vitamin deficiency are more appealing than concepts like detox gum, the effects of which are hard to quantify.
Of course, overcoming the barriers that might appear if the active ingredient is not well known or its effects are less evident is not impossible but, in those cases, product communication focused on the ingredient's benefits, and its effects and dosage, will be the key to creating mental availability and acceptance among consumers.