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Smile—Oral Care Market Set to Grow

By: Carrie Lennard, Euromonitor International.
Posted: January 20, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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For toothpaste, value growth has been driven by trading up to more value-added products, such as whitening and children’s toothpaste. Countries with low per capita values that have not taken off include certain North African countries such as Morocco, which had one of the lowest uses of toothpaste globally, at just 0.03 liters per capita in 2009.

This is because, unlike other emerging regions where toothpaste usage has been growing, competition in North Africa is still strong from the traditional miswak, a twig known for its effectiveness in cleaning teeth and gums. This situation will likely remain as the World Health Organization has recommended its use for oral care. Studies show that its effectiveness is comparable to other oral disinfectants and anti-plaque agents if used in high concentrations.

Little Evidence of Cutting Back in Mature Markets

Even in times of economic difficulty in mature Western markets, demand for basic oral care products has not been sacrificed. Volume growth was sustained because very few consumers were willing to stop cleaning their teeth in order to save money. This also resulted in consistent value growth for basic oral care of 5% in both 2008 and 2009. In contrast, secondary oral care products have been hit harder by the recession.

Compared to the promising 7% value growth achieved in 2007, value growth in 2008 slowed considerably to 4%, and 2009 value growth slowed further to just 3%. The effects of this on the oral care category overall were cushioned somewhat by the fact that these secondary products accounted for just 20% of total oral care value sales in 2009.

Power Toothbrushes Take Backseat During Recession

Manual toothbrushes continue to dominate sales, accounting for 70% of global toothbrush value sales in 2009. Power toothbrushes, however, grew in popularity during the 2004–2009 period. Before the economic crisis, growth had been robust compared to manual versions. Consumers were trading up due to a perception that power toothbrushes are more effective than manual ones.