Pearly whites

Xylithol, in Orbit Complete, can help maintain dental health by inhibiting plaque formation
Xylithol, in Orbit Complete, can help maintain dental health by inhibiting plaque formation

Ultra-bright celebrity smiles have consumers spending their cash in spades on whitening and dental enhancing products, with the big oral care brands still cleaning up


Brand Central

11 March 2009

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The market for oral hygiene products has grown consistently since the turn of the decade. Market analyst Mintel has found that toothpaste experienced great value growth as consumers became increasingly conscious of the need for good dental care, as well as a rise in the desire for whiter teeth.

In recent years, NPD has also driven the toothpaste segment to expand greatly. The latest oral hygiene innovations include formulae providing multiple benefits, from teeth whitening to enamel protection and even a mild form of tooth repair. Mintel also finds that, given one of the most significant drivers in the market is appearance, tooth-whitening additives in products ranging from mouthwash to toothpaste are becoming ubiquitous. It states that given the maturity of the market, sales will stabilise but not decline precipitously.

In Euromonitor’s 2008 ‘Oral hygiene in Ireland’ report, it said that players gave a “strong showing” over the review period, but “mega brands” will continue to dominate the category for the foreseeable future. In general trends, convenience will remain one of the biggest drivers for consumers in their product choices. However, it concurred that the rise and rise of celebrity culture, and simultaneously the luminant teeth culture, will ensure that teeth whitening will continue to be a strong consumer need, regardless of any economic downturn.

Finally, Euromonitor also reports that supermarkets have increased their value share of the oral care market. This means that retailers are well placed to take advantage of that spend and even increase share through promotion and value deals, for which consumers will be very much on the lookout this year. Maximum gains will be made through brands and retailers working together.

Complete care

Very much in line with consumer desire to keep their teeth white, all products in the Orbit Complete sugarfree chewing gum range contain Xylitol which can be effective in maintaining dental health by inhibiting plaque formation. Sugarfree chewing gum offers various health benefits, and keeping teeth strong and gums healthy are just two of them.

Orbit Complete helps protect and strengthen teeth and gums, by helping to stop acid attacks whilst restoring optimum pH levels in the mouth. It also assists the mouth in defending against the formation of plaque and protects against the early damage to tooth enamel. In addition, chewing Orbit Complete sugarfree gum increases the saliva flow to help re-mineralise tooth enamel.

The range contains several popular variants including three sugarfree mint flavours: Orbit Complete Peppermint, Spearmint, and Strong Mint, and also two sugarfree fruit flavours: Orbit Complete Strawberry and Lemon & Lime (RRP E0.85). The Orbit Complete range comes in handy envelope packs containing 14 individually wrapped tabs of gum, perfect for a pocket or purse while on the go.

So fresh and so clean

Mouthwash continues to be one of the fastest growing categories in health and beauty, and Listerine is leading the way, growing 18% verses 2007, making it by far the number one brand in Ireland, with a massive 67% market share (Ac Nielsen Dec 28/08).

The Listerine range of essential oil mouthwashes are the only mouthwashes to be accredited by the Irish Dental Association and are clinically proven to kill 99.9% of bad bacteria and to reduce more plaque than any other everyday use mouthwash.
The latest addition to the range is Softmint Sensation Listerine, with all the germ fighting ability synonymous with the Listerine brand but with a milder, less intense flavour, making it even easier to use.

Listerine is also celebrating the launch of Listerine Smart Rinse, which is an alcohol and sugar free daily use mouthwash, specially formulated for children aged 6 to 12 years. With its easy-use dosing device, it makes teeth cleaning interesting and motivating, attracting and tinting oral debris showing children the proof in the sink. It also contains fluoride, which strengthens teeth and reduces cavities by up to 40% more than brushing alone (Driscoll WS et al. JADA. 1982; 105; 1010-1013). Smart Rinse is available now in two flavours, Mild Mind and Berry.

Q4 results spells good fortunes for Colgate-Palmolive

Reporting its results in New York in January, Colgate-Palmolive said its net income increased 7% in the last quarter of 2008 to $527.5 million, with diluted earnings per share up 10% to $1.00, excluding restructuring charges. The results represent “an all-time record” for the company, it said.

Worldwide sales grew 0.5% during the fourth quarter to a record $3,664.1 million and unit volume grew 1%, thanks in part to negative foreign exchange (-8%) and global prising increases of 7.5%.

In spite of these results the company actually saw a decrease in gross profit margin of 120 basis points, compared with Q4 2007, dropping from 57.5% to 56.3% in 2008. This was explained also by the negative foregin exchange value and “a lag between the impact of significant increases in raw and packaging material costs and price increases implemented to offset them.”

However, operating profit increased 13% versus the last quarter of 2007, to $761.6 million. Excluding restructuring charges it tallied at a record $800.9 million. Chairman, president and chief executive officer, Ian Cook commented: “We are delighted that our strong organic top-line momentum continued this quarter with organic sales increasing 9.0%. Also, our aggressive cost cutting and increasing efficiency allowed us to raise profit margins on both the operating profit and net profit lines, despite difficult economic conditions worldwide.”

Questions and answers with…

Steven Davey, oral care business leader, Procter & Gamble

How important has product innovation been for continuing growth in the oral care market?

“As consumers are taking more interest in adopting preventative care measures to look after their own oral health, this inevitably leads to increased expectations from their dental hygiene products. As such, growth in the oral care market is currently being driven by innovative and premium priced new products.

“Consumers are also becoming increasingly health and beauty conscious although not necessarily at the same time. In fact, there is evidence that consumers are seeing themselves as either heath or beauty conscious and therefore have very different needs. New products are being developed to meet both groups end benefits, which will continue to drive growth in the oral care category.”

How has the brand continued to differentiate itself and drive interest in itself and the category?

“Oral-B’s ever-expanding portfolio of products, highly innovative NPD team and a policy of continued clinical testing are all reasons why Oral-B is well positioned to respond to consumer trends as well as challenges from other brands.

“Oral-B Triumph with SmartGuide is the most stylish, technologically advanced, rechargeable toothbrush on the market… (it) communicates with the wireless ‘SmartGuide’ unit (a separate visual display) to ensure that the user brushes their teeth effectively… As pioneers of oscillate-rotate and 3D cleaning technology and the creator of the new Oral-B Triumph…Oral-B‘s current rechargeable portfolio is second to none and this is further shown by Oral-B’s 84.3% UK market share.” (IRI volume sales, 52 w/e 27 Dec 2008)

Going forward, what do you believe is the most important trend emerging in oral care?

“Consumer purchasing trends are moving towards rechargeable products as they become increasingly accessible both in terms of distribution and price points…Entry-level-priced products are also a crucial category component to help drive volume sales, recruiting new users from the manual toothbrush market by providing an affordable introductory step to trial the benefits of rechargeable brushing.”

How is the brand placed to respond to the changing needs of consumers in today’s market?

 “Studies have shown that Oral-B rotate-oscillate rechargeable brushes have superior cleaning capabilities, compared with ordinary manual toothbrushes, and can remove twice as much plaque. Talk to anyone who has recently made the change to a rechargeable toothbrush, 8/10 said they’d recommend it to family and friends, they really give you a dentist feel of clean.” (Survey of 205 UK consumers 62% agreed). With entry-level products such as the Oral-B Vitality, to more advanced 3D technology such as the Oral-B Triumph with SmartGuide, Oral-B has a toothbrush to fit consumer needs and budgets”. 

Questions and answers with…

Peter Hatton, customer marketing manager oral care division, Colgate

How important has product innovation been for continuing growth in the oral care market?

“Product innovation is vital to the growth of the market. As consumers have more access to information their perceived needs become more sophisticated and new products will become integral parts of their shopping repertoire. Our Interdental Brushes are an example of this, they are currently being recommended by dentists and we have high hopes for growth in penetration.”

How has the brand continued to differentiate itself and drive interest in itself and the category?

“The brand has continually added highly innovative products to the portfolio like in recent times our Interdental Brushes and Total Professional Weekly Clean, and similarly the brand has always looked to consistently improve and revamp products like Colgate Total toothpaste which was relaunched with an improved formula and taste in February.”

How can the brand add value for retailers during this current economic climate?

“I think brands and retailers need to work together to develop plans including promotions to meet all consumer needs, it is important to have value options within the product offering but not all consumers will want to trade down within this category so retaining premium lines in addition to value is important to the category overall.”

How can the brand offer value to consumers during this current economic climate?

“Value lines and a clearly developed promotional plan are the obvious ones but it is also important to provide reassurance that branded and premium lines are worth paying for.”

Going forward, what do you believe is the most important trend emerging in oral care?

“Self care/DIY: consumers taking responsibility for their own oral care needs. With the availability of information and increasing consumer sophistication the trend will be towards buying products with a clear understanding of what the benefit/need is.”

How is the brand placed to respond to the changing needs of consumers in today’s market?

“I think we are well placed, we have a strong NPD program with exciting new products across the category.”



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