Sunday, December 29, 2013
Stumbling His Way To Success
The year is 1891. A 29 year old fella name William leaves Philadelphia, bound for Chicago where he is determined to be the "king of sales". He's got $32 dollars in one pocket, the other pocket stuffed with dreams of riches and success.
He first tries peddling bath soaps and fails. Not one to give up, he tries a new tack; packaging his soap with a can of baking powder. That doesn't work either. Ole Will then drops the soap line and tries selling the baking powder alone. He ain't selling much baking powder either. So he decides to offer two free packs of gum along with baking powder.
Soon folks were buying the baking powder just to get the excellent gum! So Will had finally found a product to sell! Even as gum sales exploded Will like to hang around with his retail customers, find out what they thought about his marketing techniques, then began putting up signs to advertise his gum in every store in his territory. The signage encouraged customers to ask for his gum brand so retailers were careful to keep his product fully stocked. Two years later Will would begin marketing Juicy Fruit and Spearmint gums. Double Mint would not come along until 1914 but by this time America had become a nation of gum chewers and William Wrigley would become a multi-millionaire and one of the richest men in the nation….all due to a product that Americans, until Wrigley came along, did not care much about.
The William Wrigley Chewing Gum company would march through the entire 20th century with great success. After dominating the U.S. market for decades they would achieve similar success overseas and become the world leader in gum and candy sales. And, until 2006 the company would be lead by a Wrigley, the father ceding control to son for a century. And each of the succeeding sons would put their own unique management techniques to work in the company. William Jr's son, Phillip, who led the company from 1932 to 1961 was so patriotic that, during WWII, he halted commercial sales of the gum and donated the company's entire production output to American G.I.'s fighting around the world.
In 2006 another famous candy family, the Mars, bought out Wrigleys, putting two candy and gum giants under one magnificent umbrella.
From soap powders to baking powder to gum, old William Wrigley stumbled his way to a success even he hadn't dreamed of.