Glee Gum’s Brand Bubble Grows

Company looks to make sales pop with U.K. distributor deal

Chances are you haven’t heard of Glee—no, not the TV show, the gum. In a segment dominated by chewmongers Wrigley (Doublemint) and Cadbury (Trident), a tiny brand like Glee, sold in 6,500 retail locations, nibbles on less than 1 percent market share.

That could change. Undeterred by its diminutive size, the Providence, R.I., gum maker just inked a deal with Community Foods, a major U.K. distributor, that will give Glee a foothold throughout Europe. “I can’t say that Wrigley is in any way aware of our existence,” says founder Deborah Schimberg. “But this deal will give us a presence in Europe, where sales of natural products are growing enormously.”

Unlike its big-wrapper rivals, Glee is still made with natural ingredients (in particular chicle, the tree sap that gives the gum its chew) that Europeans prefer. Glee also recently took a bite out of the sugar-free category with two new flavors, putting it in direct competition with the likes of Dentyne and Orbit.

None of this means Glee’s likely to bump Wrigley from the register rack any time soon, but its ambitions might at least give the big brands something to chew on.

@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.