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Wrigley’s began as a soap business: know when to pivot

The history of Wrigley’s gum and the pivots taken by the company is inspirational and encouraging to those considering expanding or changing direction.



Knowing when to pivot, not just stick to your guns

Every business comes to a crossroads at one point or another. It may be immediately after beginning your business or it may be fifty years down the road. No matter when it comes, one thing is for certain – it will come, and you’ll need to make the ultimate decision, a decision that has the potential to change your business forever, either positively or negatively. The general choice will be to stick to your guns and continue forward on your established path or pivoting your business to face an entirely new direction.

Pivoting your business is never an easy decision to make. It means redefining and reinventing yourself and your brand. It may mean abandoning what you were and what you are in order to become what you can be. Your instincts may tell you that it’s safer to stay as you are. And that’s probably true. But is it best for your company? Will staying the same give your brand the boost it needs to continue moving forward, or is it a bad move?

The history of Wrigley’s gum

Let’s take a famous brand as an example. When you hear the name “Wrigley’s,” you undoubtedly think of chewing gum or the baseball stadium in Chicago, which are owned by the same company. Wrigley’s wasn’t always known for their gum, no, the Wrigley family started out in the soap business towards the end of the 1800s. Soon, the company started offering baking powder as a free product to accompany soap purchases, which enticed the masses to purchase more and more soap.

Soon, the popularity of the baking powder outgrew the demand of the soap. So, soap production was halted and the production of baking powder became Wrigley’s prime focus. Knowing that everyone loves free things, Wrigley Jr., who took over the company with the switch of the baking powder, decided to include free sticks of chewing gum to customers. As you might have guessed, the popularity of the chewing gum outweighed the popularity of the baking powder. As such, Wrigley made the switch again.

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After much trial and error with marketing, packaging, and even the gum ingredients, Wrigley’s became a household name, and it’s still a household name today. Wrigley, Jr. recognized opportunities for change, for improvement, for growth. Instead of being satisfied with what his company was producing, he took advantage of those doors that opened to different and even unrelated paths. These big decisions made Wrigley’s what it is today.

Making a pivot is risky, but may improve your brand

Yes, taking an entirely new focus and path is risky. Without risk, there is little room for big rewards. If you’re comfortable where your company is now, that’s perfectly fine. But if you feel that you could expand and improve your business somehow, be open to these opportunities that will inevitably come. You never know what your brand could become unless you reach out and grasp onto new opportunities, as scary as they can be.

Written By

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.

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