William Wrigley Jr.

Even in Small Things,
"Quality is Important"

William Wrigley Jr. came to Chicago from Philadelphia in the spring of 1891. He was 29 years old, had just 32 American dollars in his pocket and unlimited enthusiasm and energy. He also had great talent as a salesman.

Because his father was a soap manufacturer, Mr. Wrigley started his new business in Chicago selling Wrigley's Scouring Soap. As an extra incentive to merchants, Mr. Wrigley offered premiums. He knew his customers would be more likely to carry Wrigley's soap if they received a little 'something for nothing'. One of these premiums was baking powder. When baking powder proved to be more popular than soap, he switched to the baking powder business.

Then, one day in 1892, Mr. Wrigley got the idea of offering 2 packages of chewing gum with each can of baking powder. The idea was a big success. Once again the premium - chewing gum - seemed more promising than the product it was promoting.

At that time, there were at least a dozen chewing gum companies in the United States, but the industry was relatively undeveloped. Mr. Wrigley realised that chewing gum was the product with the potential he had been looking for, so he began marketing it under his own name. His first 2 brands were called Lotta and Vassar. Juicy Fruit® gum came next in 1893, and Wrigley's Spearmint® was introduced later that same year - both remain strong sellers around the world to this very day.

William Wrigley Jr. in his private office, 1901.

Getting a foothold in the chewing gum business was not easy. Several times the young company was on the verge of going under, but perseverance and hard work paid off, and the business forged ahead.

In the very early days, William Wrigley Jr. did much of the selling to the trade personally. He had a gift for seeing his customers' point of view and accommodating himself to their needs. As the company grew, Mr. Wrigley also showed an unusual knack for inspiring enthusiasm in the people who worked with him.

Mr. Wrigley was one of the pioneers in the use of advertising to promote the sale of branded merchandise. He saw that consumer acceptance of Wrigley's gum could be built faster by telling people about the benefits of the product through newspaper and magazine ads, outdoor posters and other forms of advertising. As more and more consumers began to ask for and buy Wrigley's chewing gum in the stores, the storekeeper naturally wanted to keep a sufficient stock of Wrigley brands on hand.

As the company continued to grow, it steadfastly applied a basic principle that we continue to live by today: 'Even in a little thing like a stick of gum, quality is important.'


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