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P&G Takes on India

July 3, 2013

Enlists Bollywood actress to sell toothpaste

After playing second (make that third) fiddle to key rivals, Procter & Gamble executives hope one of Bollywood’s most popular actors can help it break the dominance of Colgate and Hindustan Unilever Ltd., which together control 73% of India’s toothpaste market.

P&G, which started selling its Oral-B Pro-health toothpaste in mainly urban centers in India in June, is using Hindi-movie actor Madhuri Dixit-Nene to endorse the brand. By enlisting mother-of-two Dixit-Nene, 46, P&G is targeting all age groups, said Harish Bijoor, who advises companies on brands.

P&G’s success in almost doubling market share for its Oral-B toothbrush brand in Asia’s third-largest economy encouraged the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company to enter the toothpaste market that Colgate has controlled for 75 years, said Abhijeet Kundu, an analyst at Antique Stock Broking Ltd. Its plan to focus on cities, where rival Dabur India Ltd. (DABUR) estimates 77% of the population use toothpastes, may restrict sales growth, according to Kundu, who estimates that it will take at least two years for the brand to get established.

In contrast, Colgate toothpaste has a market share of about 51%, while Hindustan Unilever’s Pepsodent and Close-Up dental creams control 22% of the market, according to Euromonitor International. The per capita consumption value of toothpaste in India is $0.4, compared with $2.9 in Malaysia and $2 in Thailand, according to a June presentation posted on the Dabur website. Only about 42 percent of people in the nation’s villages and small towns use toothpaste, data show.

 

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