Sector Insight: Oral hygiene


The growth of the oral hygiene market is being driven by public awareness of dental health, as well as product innovation.

From TV programmes such as How to Look Good Naked to magazine articles in Grazia, there is plenty of advice out there on how to achieve the body beautiful. The celebrity look is no longer limited to the clothes they wear or their workout routines, and as every inch of their bodies are scrutinised, so too are our own.

Within the oral hygiene market, one of the major trends is teeth whitening. A pearly white smile, with not a crooked gnasher in sight, is an essential part of the Hollywood look. And for those who cannot afford cosmetic dental surgery, there are cheaper and less intrusive options, such as whitening toothpaste.

Dental health has progressed enormously over the generations, and today's pensioners are less likely to need dentures. However, access to an NHS dentist can be elusive, and many people cannot afford the cost of private treatment.

Of course, toothpaste and brushes have achieved almost universal market penetration. The notable trends are an increase in the sale of specialist products, such as floss and mouthwashes, and the rise of pastes and washes catering for people with sensitive teeth and those concerned about acid erosion.

So, with more products to choose from and a greater awareness of oral hygiene, it is not surprising that this market is booming. In 2008 it was worth £760m, an increase of 23% on 2003, according to Mintel.

The majority of sales, 70%, are accounted for by toothpastes and brushes (people tend to change their toothbrush four times a year). The electric toothbrush is gaining ground, with Procter & Gamble's Oral-B dominating the rechargeable sector. Dentists are recommending power brushes because they allow a better cleaning technique that removes more plaque and lessens the incidence of receding gums.

While more than three-quarters (77%) of adults brush their teeth at least twice a day, less than half (47%) also use mouthwash, according to TGI. This presents an opportunity for mouthwash makers - with sales in this category having grown already by 77% between 2003 and 2008.

Acid erosion is a particularly modern problem, exacerbated by the consumption of carbonated drinks, juice and fresh fruit. There has been significant NPD aimed at addressing this, including GlaxoSmithKline's Sensodyne Pronamel paste.

Teenagers and young adults are the most likely to be lackadaisical in their approach to dental hygiene, according to BMRB. As the over-35s have more fillings and other dental work, they are also the ones most likely to use a wider range of products. In general, women also take better care of their teeth than men.

Brands in this category enjoy a high level of customer loyalty, and have not suffered a significant loss of share to own-label rivals. Colgate-Palmolive leads the sector with its dominant positions in toothpaste and manual brushes. Its Colgate brand is well supported, and innovation has been rife. Recent launches include its Max White toothpaste and 360 Deep Clean toothbrush with tapered bristles, said to offer a more thorough cleaning experience. Colgate-Palmolive also owns natural toothpaste brand Tom's of Maine.

GSK's portfolio covers Aquafresh, Macleans, Sensodyne and Corsodyl. Its Aquafresh Iso-Active Foaming Gel is claimed to remove 25% more bacteria than other toothpastes.

P&G's Crest brand has not received strong marketing support recently, and this has affected its market share.

Toothpaste and brushes are essential purchases and as such are unlikely to be affected by the recession. People may reduce additional items such as mouthwashes if they are watching their money closely, but similarly, home teeth-whitening kits may be viewed as a cheaper alternative to professional dentistry.

By 2013 the market is predicted to be worth £919m. While this does not match the growth of the past five years, it still represents a rise of 21%.


Toothpaste Manufacturers by Value and Share
RankManufacturers2008 (est) 2007 2006 % change
1Colgate-Palmolive  1324612946127463.9
2GlaxoSmithKline  1123910437102379.8
3Procter & Gamble   124145145-14.3
 Own-label  145145176-17.6
 Other  1762071760
 Total   2871002801002751004.4
Source: Mintel         


Manual Toothbrush Manufacturers by Value and Share
RankManufacuters2008 (est) 2007 2006 % change
1Colgate-Palmolive  4327412641264.9
2Procter & Gamble/Oral-B  4126412641260
3GlaxoSmithKline  2717251625168
4Johnson & Johnson  2214201322140
5Wisdom  6464640
 Own-label  161017111912-15.8
 Other  3253320
 Total  1591001571001561001.9
Source: Mintel         


Power Toothbrush Manufacturers by Value and Share
RankManufacturers2008 (est) 2007 2006 % change
1Procter & Gamble/Oral-B  48544959435611.6
2Philips Sonicare  20232024182311.1
3Colgate-Palmolive  7879790
 Own-label  44343433.3
 Other  910346850
 Total  89100831007710015.6


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