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Oral care experienced modest yet stable growth from 2004–2009, chalking up a compound annual growth rate of 4% over that period. In fact, the otherwise mature and saturated category registered only a slight dip in value growth to 4% in 2009, down from 5% the previous year. This was largely thanks to a continued push toward value-added products as well as oral care’s enviable status as one of the most essential categories within beauty and personal care.
Basic oral care products (toothpaste and toothbrushes) have proven far more resilient to the economic crisis than secondary oral care, which is comprised of mouthwashes/dental rinses, mouth fresheners, dental floss, denture care and tooth whiteners. Many of these products are still not used regularly outside the most developed oral care markets, but they do have significant growth opportunities as toothbrush and toothpaste usage becomes more common among very low-income consumers.
In some emerging markets, such as Venezuela and South Africa, toothbrush penetration itself is already comparatively high, with many consumers already brushing their teeth on a daily basis. Hence, growth has been driven by more low-income consumers being able to afford to buy these products more frequently. In other markets, notably Egypt, where per capita spend on toothbrushes was just 0.2 units in 2009 (i.e. only one in four consumers purchased a toothbrush in 2009), there remains a lack of awareness of general oral hygiene, and growth is being driven by brand owners’ attempts to educate consumers as to the importance of oral health.
Toothpaste performance is in contrast with toothbrushes, with most low per capita countries still not seeing strong growth. India was the only low per capita country with strong value growth in 2009.