A Pioneer in Marketing, Branding, and Upselling – William Wrigley Jr

July 15, 2010 by  Filed under: Branding 

All Chicago residents know Wrigley Field, but do they know who William Wrigley Jr. was or how he went from a lowly soap salesman to a business success who has one of the most famous baseball fields and chewing gum companies in the world named after him? The story goes like this, at age 29 Wrigley left Philadelphia for Chicago with $32 dollars in his pocket, endless spirit, and family manufactured soap to sell. Being a talented salesman Wrigley knew if he offered “something for nothing” he was more likely to make sales. So with each box of soap came a free box of baking powder, when he realized there was more money in baking powder he began selling it instead of soap.

In 1892 he had the idea to offer two packages of chewing gum with each box of baking powder that he sold, and once again the free item was a bigger hit than what he was actually selling. There were a dozen or so companies making chewing gum at the time but Wrigley quickly realized it was a undeveloped market that he could dominate. With his sales skills, and boundless optimism he broke into the chewing gum business. Wrigley managed to kept his business afloat through several near bankruptcies and by 1893 he had four different types of gum including Lotta, Vassar, Juicy Fruit, and Wrigley’s Spearmint.

During the early days, William did most of the selling as he had a knack for connecting with people and building rapport. He also inspired his early employees by continually bringing out the enthusiasm of others. Wrigley had a company and a product, now he needed to get the word out.

Wrigley pioneered advertising in realizing that he could establish his brand through newspaper, magazine and outdoor poster ads. As customers began to ask for Wrigley’s by name, storekeepers would increase their orders to make sure they had a steady supply of the vastly popular chewing gum. Positive word of mouth was the key ingredient to what is now a worldwide chewing gum empire; however Mr. Wrigley never let the scope of his operation distract him from the importance of selling a good product. “Even in a little thing like a stick of gum,” Wrigley famously said, “quality is important.”

This biography of William Wrigley Jr. is presented by Gurnee Ford Dealer Chicago and is the latest in a series of educational articles pertaining to the rich history and culture of the Chicagoland area. This new Ford Chicago dealer hopes that all Chicagoans can appreciate the never-give-up spirit of the city every time they think of Mr. Wrigley.

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