Innovation lessons from Wrigley’s chewing gum
You can learn a lot from this gum company
Waivly.. what can we learn from a gum company? Actually, quite a lot, specifically around innovating and not being afraid to pivot or evolve even if it feels like you have to start over.
The story of William Wrigley Jr.
A soap salesman who became one of the worlds best gum manufacturers. He was the son of William, who was the founder and president of Wrigley Manufacturing Company, and Mary A. Ladley.
Throughout even his early years, William Wrigley Jr. was interested in his father’s soap business. When he was 13 years old, he became a soap salesman for his father and sold soaps from a basket in the streets of Philadelphia.
Discovering a new spark
All the way back in 1891, when William Wrigley Jr. was just 30 years old, he moved to Chicago with his young daughter Dorothy and his wife Ada, and opened a new brand of his father’s company where he sold soap as the business did, and also offered baking powder as a bonus for his customers.
William Wrigley Jr. soon realised that baking powder had became a huge hit as the freebie with the soap and that customers were actually more interested in getting the baking powder than their soap, so he and his partner decided to switch to a baking powder business.
The hit freebie that became massive
Now William Wrigley Jr. was selling baking powder as a primary product of the William Wrigley Jr. Company, he decided to add another freebie to his product, just like he had before when he was selling soap with baking powder, but this time, he opted for gum as a freebie with his baking powder.
Just like with how the baking powder’s popularity as a freebie with the soap overtook the soap, the chewing gum did the exact same, and so again, Wrigley abandoned his main business of baking powder, and entered the gum industry, and in 1893, he offered two new gum brands, those being Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint.
Making the gum business boom
In 1907, during the economic depression, William Wrigley Jr. displayed courage and risk in the clearly difficult time, and mortgaged everything he owned in order to launch a massive advertising campaign, and that gamble paid off, as by 1908, sales of Wrigley’s Spearmint were more than $1,000,000 a year, and in total, the overall sales for the company jumped from $170,000 to $3,000,000.
Through multiple successful marketing campaigns after this, Wrigley became the biggest gum manufacturer in the world and established his gum company in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand. Ever since then, the business continued to boom and do amazing, all thanks to a risk and a chance taken by Wrigley.
William Wrigley Jr. passed away on January 26th, 1932, at the age of 70, and from there on, his son continued to run the company.
The lesson to be learnt
The morale of the story here from Wrigley’s adventures is that you should never be scared to evolve, change, or pivot from your original plans or goals, even if it does feel like you’re having to restart everything you worked on and go for it again. Be proud of yourself for your efforts so far, but don’t fear going into a new adventure and starting over.
Sometimes, you find hidden gems and opportunities in random places, and in risks and chances. Just because you have a plan in place, if something else you’re doing or considering appears to have even more potential and you would also enjoy that newly presented opportunity, why not take it and go down that route instead? Reinvent yourself, and take the opportunities presented to you.
A truly important lesson for the entrepreneurs, startups, and business community out there. Do not be afraid to reinvent yourself, ever. Thank you to The Vintage News for sharing this truly legendary story of William Wrigley Jr.
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