Consumers are tightening their budgets amid today’s economic crunch, but the oral care team at consumer products giant Procter & Gamble remains optimistic about 2009 as it works to help retailers drive sales by transforming shopper insights into actionable ideas via an integrated marketing campaign highlighting the health benefits of its Pro-Health platform and a pipeline of innovative products.
“If you think about oral care, we call it ‘cradle to grave’ in terms of appealing to young children all the way through dentures. So in these challenging economic times, the key is for retailers to really look at categories that are going to be able to continue to deliver top line and bottom line growth,” Sally Schoen, category sales manager for oral care at P&G, told Drug Store News. “We have a tremendous history of doing that with Crest and Oral B, and we are really very excited about the future of Pro Health as one of what we are calling our ‘mega properties.’”
The Crest Pro-Health platform made its debut in the first half of 2005 with the highly promoted launch of Crest Pro-Health rinse. The portfolio has since expanded with such products as Crest Pro-Health toothpaste and, more recently, Crest Pro-Health whitening paste.
What makes Pro-Health toothpaste unique, for example, is that with its exclusive proprietary Crest technology, the Polyfluorite System, it is the first and only toothpaste with the American Dental Association seal that freshens breath and protects against gingivitis, tartar, plaque, sensitivity, stains and cavities.
In 2008—and continuing strong into 2009—P&G kicked off an integrated marketing campaign aimed at helping consumers understand the importance of good oral health and the benefits of Pro-Health. More specifically, if they use Pro-Health rinse, Pro-Health toothpaste and a Pro-Health toothbrush together, they will see “up to seven times better cleaning” with regular use versus a regular manual toothbrush and regular anti-cavity toothpaste.
“Retailers are thrilled about it because everybody is trying to get one more product in the buggy. Also importantly, these are products that are all at a higher transaction size in terms of trade up, and so it is an ability to grow the category through better enhanced technologies, and there’s also a nice dollar profit that comes with that as well,” said Schoen.
Having consumers understand the health benefits of Pro-Health and to view the products as preventive care is essential to driving growth in today’s economy. In other words, spending a few extra dollars on Pro-Health products, versus trading down to low-cost oral care products, could very well save consumers big money on their next dental visit.
“Pro-Health is really affordable health care.… If we are able to demonstrate to folks through things like ‘7× better cleaning’ they understand for $2 that is a pretty good value versus the alternative of having cavities filled,” Schoen noted.
Underscoring the need to help consumers understand the benefits of good oral health care is the findings of a national public opinion survey recently revealed by the ADA in collaboration with P&G’s Crest and Oral B brands.
According to the survey, 80 percent of Americans agree that taking care of their mouth, teeth and gums is absolutely needed. However, only one-third of respondents say they do an excellent job of taking care of their mouth, teeth and gums, and fewer still say their oral health is excellent (26 percent). About the same number (23 percent) rate their oral health as only fair or poor.
The survey presents the findings of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older.
For 2009, P&G also is putting together a cause-related marketing campaign to help raise funds for Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s medical charity. As part of the campaign, Crest and Oral B purchases will help fund P&G’s ability to partner with Operation Smile through proceeds and donations. Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile volunteers have treated more than 120,000 children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.
To help retailers bring these initiatives to life in their stores and bolster sales, P&G has put together an arsenal of tools, including in-store displays and Web site tie-ins. Perhaps most important is the remerchandising of the three Pro-Health products together as a regimen, according to P&G.
“Those [retailers] that are really growing from the category the fastest are really driving the regimen even more aggressively so they are finding ways to do that. Some retailers are more interested in the singular price point, but they are finding ways, whether it is clip strips or other things if there is a corporate directive, to get around that because they are seeing the incrementality and the results,” Schoen said. “We have seen a lot of movement, where probably a year and half ago it was a bit of an uphill battle. For those who have tried it, they have gotten demonstratively better results.”
Added Schoen, “We need the partnership of retailers to support that direction as well and not allow some of the dismal outlook to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”