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Mondelez’s Trident mines fashion and privacy shared themes to get closer to Gen Z

By Seb Joseph | News editor

March 19, 2015 | 4 min read

Mondelez International has taken an unlikely approach to spark flagging gum sales by exploring the intersection of fashion and privacy in the hope of getting closer to those post-millennials grappling to hold onto their identities in an increasingly connected world.

Gum sales have failed to pop for the snacks maker since 2012 despite ownership of some of the category’s biggest players in Trident, Stride and iD. Revenue was down 3 per cent year-on-year in 2014 despite growing or retaining its share in four of its top six gum markets.

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Mondelez blamed the dip on the growing disconnect with post millennials that have had an accelerated education of reality having grown up amid economic woes and a broadcast culture. They harbour a complicated attitude towards privacy as a result, which Trident’s marketers wanted to explore in an attempt to reach them on their terms.

Speaking at SXSW, Eliza Esquivel, vice president of global brand and creative excellence at Mondelez, detailed how the company gained a deeper understanding of Generation Z by creating a clothing line that actually blocks out mobile phone signals.

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It sounds like it belongs in the realms of science fiction but The “Focus: life gear by Trident” range was crafted by Japanese fashion designer Kunihiko Moringa and features dresses, jackets and shirts all made from radio-shielding fabric.

“We discovered an emerging innovation moment in the fashion world that is challenging today’s fashion technology focus on broadcast and connectivity and is in essence promoting the notion of what we’re calling the ‘anti-wearable’,” said Esquivel.

Mondelez was unable to share the results of the project because it was propriety. However, the initiative forms part of wider efforts to lift the relevance of its top brands that are seemingly at risk of becoming less relevant in today’s cultures.

“I did a marketing innovation project for gum to address the fact that the category was declining and we had tons of research to try and understand why people weren’t chewing gum anymore. One of the big things that we learned was that the category has completely lost relevance with young adults. We started looking at the various benefits that would matter to young adults about gum and one of them was that it helps you focus and it helps you focus with performance.”

The business can’t promote this performance message without the backing of costly scientific trials and so sought out the advice of Tokyo-based advertisers Party to come up with an alternative solution. The agency devised concept of fashion and privacy, which the business believes gave it newfound confidence to talk to its hard-to-reach target audience.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of post millennials are more likely to switch a product or services based on privacy concerns than the rest of the population, according to a study of UK and US participants conducted by Contagious and brand consultancy Flamingo Group.

Esquivel added: “We’re seeing collisions between fashion and technology and it’s almost become the opposite of privacy where it’s really about the measurement and broadcasting in a connected world where our performance is measured at every turn.”

For teens, privacy is not about keeping quiet, it’s about owning the story, according to the study. The attitude dovetails with Mondelez’s wider efforts to be more customer centric throughout its business and not just in marketing.

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