Brands brush up on dental hygiene sales

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Brands brush up on dental hygiene sales

It appears oral care brands are borrowing a page from the skin care playbook. To brush up on sales, more oral care brands are mirroring trends that have boosted mass market skin care sales — double-duty toothpastes, a trend toward “premiumization” and building momentum for more naturally positioned offerings.

Both skin and oral care are poised to benefit from the quest for better health. Grand View Research pegged the 2016 global oral care market at $27 billion, with projections for growth through 2025. They also cited growing awareness of dental hygiene and the rising prevalence of cavities as market drivers.

Toothpaste still accounts for the bulk of category sales, but the path to higher dollar volume is in moving price tags up. That’s where multi-functional items come into play. While the sub-category as a whole rung up a sales increase of 2.8% during the 52 weeks ended May 14 across multi-outlets, according to IRI, several toothpaste brands that clean teeth, whiten and/or provide additional health benefits turned in stellar results. Among them were Procter & Gamble’s Crest Pro-Health Advanced Extra Deep Clean Toothpaste (up 468.8%), Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Whitening Toothpaste (up 78.6%) and GlaxoSmithKline’s Sensodyne Complete Protection Toothpaste (up 12.1%).

Innovation in products of this type continues. Procter & Gamble’s Crest Pro-Health HD delivers six times the cleaning and whitening results of regular toothpaste, and offers sensitivity relief, according to the company. GlaxoSmithKline has rolled out Sensodyne Deep Clean with “foam boost technology” and an accompanying social media campaign, #BeautyWithoutCompromise, which features women discussing their beauty experiences, with Sensodyne presented as contributing by whitening teeth.

The sensitive teeth sub-segment also is growing overall. Sales of Sensodyne, for instance, were up by 9% in mid-May compared with mid-May the previous year.

Consumer interest in natural products hasn’t died down, either. Sales of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste rose 14.8% for the 52-week period, according to IRI. Hello Products also is vying for the natural business, attempting to woo consumers with its “An Inconvenient Tooth” campaign, which focuses on asking consumers if they know what is in their toothpaste, and urging them to try an alternative.

In a recent analyst call, Colgate-Palmolive CEO Ian Cook said Colgate has been following a “premiumization” strategy — moving to more expensive and premium products — with marketers promising more innovation this year that will spark a bump in prices. This should bode well for drug stores given consumers’ preference for non-basic oral care products, according to Kline’s VP Carrie Melage. A prime example is the success of whitening strips, bringing results once only attainable through a doctor into homes.

Oral care buyers are seeing an uptick in devices, too. Spintek’s Rhiannon Fugate, who works on the company’s SleepRight brand, said she has watched the dental guard sub-category grow. “People are becoming more aware of” teeth grinding, “and a lot of [products] focus [on] sleep,” she said.

Mouthwash is another category where multi-functional offerings rule. While sales dropped 0.9% for the period ended May 14, sales of some specialty and multi-functional mouthwashes rose, including Crest Pro Health Advanced Mouthwash/Dental Rinse (up 71.3%) and Listerine Total Care mouthwash (up 17.3%), according to IRI.

Retailers also are hoping to cash in on the popularity of power brushes and dental appliances. The downside to the boom in high- end brushes is the decline of manual brushes, whose sales fell 1.7% for the 52-week period ended May 14, according to IRI.