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Bite’s Back in Oral Care

By: Colin Decker, Euromonitor International
Posted: January 31, 2012, from the January 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Across every major market, the introduction of value-added oral care products is being met with approval and success. Brand owners in mature, saturated oral care markets are looking for ways to differentiate themselves in areas where the only way to growth is to take share away from competitors while seeking to serve consumers in developing markets (with their growing incomes) with products to cover a wide variety of oral care issues. As an example of differentiation in mature markets, sensitive toothpaste in Germany and the U.K. saw 2% and 4% share increases over the past five years as consumers looked for more than just basic teeth cleaning from their toothpaste.

In countries like Brazil, consumers are becoming more aware of oral hygiene and are willing to spend extra money on additional teeth-protection products. Leading companies, for example, are engaging in strong advertising campaigns for value-added products, and new innovative product launches are appearing on the market (again, toothpaste for sensitive teeth as an example), and more dentists are promoting the use of such products. Whitening toothpaste increased its share of the Brazilian toothpaste market from 8.5% in 2005 to 36% in 2010, the second most popular type behind standard/traditional toothpaste.

Growing incomes in China, too, are also impacting consumer choices in oral care. In 2010, for example, there was growing interest in functional, specialized and value-added toothpaste. This was partly due to a growing focus on health and appearance, in addition to rising disposable income levels and a return to stronger economic growth in 2010. Consumers became increasingly willing to spend money on ensuring dental health, with many seeking toothpaste that, in addition to cleansing and freshening, offers health benefits.

In India, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) launched its Sensodyne brand in early 2011. Its entry into this market was a clear indication of the company’s belief in the potential India offers and its consumer evolution to increased product demand for more specific needs and concerns. The overall toothpaste market in India is currently growing at 8%, while the “sensitive toothpaste” segment is estimated to be growing at around 18%, and GSK has reported it will invest Rs.250 million over 2012 to market the brand—adding that it will reach out to around 15,000 dentists across the country.

Consumers in developed markets are also trading up to specialized products, as in Germany where there was particularly strong growth for cross-action toothbrushes, which feature bristles angled in opposing directions in order to better lift out and sweep away plaque. These products gained two percentage points in value share in 2010 over 2009, rising to account for 10% share. At the same time, total care/complete care toothpastes increased its share of the German market from 0.5% in 2005 to 8% in 2010, as consumers looked for products to cover all of their oral care needs.

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