Oral Care Marketers Keep Smiling in Europe

By Katie Middleweek, Editor, European Cosmetic Markets | December 1, 2011

There have been some things to smile about during the past year in theBig 5 countries with most countries making gains in value terms. France, Germany and Spain all put in polished performances, but the UK and Italy posted losses, albeit tiny ones.

In this somewhat utilitarian category, it is sometimes difficult to keep the momentum and excitement going, so creditthose countries that managed to make gains and new product development (NPD) played a large part in these gains.

A Polished Performance

According to SymphonyIRI France the toothpaste market in the country grew by 4.6% in the past year to $505 million, a slight increase on the previous year’s performance. However, the most impressive growth in French oral care came from toothbrushes, which put on an even more impressive 12.2% to total $253 million—electronic toothbrushes alone grew 58%. Manual varieties meanwhile dipped by 2%, showing that consumers are losing interest in this format. But as electric toothbrushes are much more expensive than their manual counterparts, this can only spell good news for the sector going forward.

In terms of NPD, one unique and already successful launch this year was Dr. Philip L from Denivit Expert (Henkel), a whitening range which is also the first mass market“doctor” brand from an oral care manufacturer in France.The line, developed with aesthetic dentist Philip Lepki, features two innovations, Dentrifice Blancheur, a whitening toothpaste that promises to make teeth two shades whiter if used daily, and Soin Blancheur Intense 7 Jours, an intensive treatment that claims to leave teeth looking three times whiter in just a week.

Chipping Away at Growth

The German oral care market had a generally successful year, according to figures from SymphonyIRI Germany. Results show that the toothpaste sales rose 2.7% in the past year to reach $558 million. But the mouthwash category didn’t fare as well, slipping 0.8% to $164 million. Volume sales for both of the main sectors though were healthy with toothbrush volume sales up by 1.1% and mouthwash volume sales up 2.4%.

When it came to new products, there were rollouts from all of the usual suspects including oral care giants GSK and domestic company Henkel. From the GSK stable came Odol-Med Whole Tooth protection toothpaste, said to protect teeth above and below the gum line while also containing an extra portion of fluoride; and Odol-Med White & Shine, with two types of cleaning particles including larger silica particles and smaller micro pearls. From Henkel came Theramed White Booster, an antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash in one. When used in tandem, teeth are said to appear optically whiter after just one use. The company says that prolonged application will strengthen that effect.

Between the Lines

The Italian oral care market didn’t fare quite so well, as sales slipped a scant 0.2% to $735 million, according to industry body Unipro. Of that total, toothpastes accounted for $651 million, while mouthwash sales totalled $84 million. The vast majority of products was sold in the Italian mass market, which is largely where one would expect, although Italians are paying more attention to their mouth and gums, as some recent new launches indicate.

Sweden’s TePe oral hygiene products are now available in Italy.

In the past year, Swedish brand TePe Oral Hygiene products opened a branch in Milan with a plan to “take care of Italian smiles.” The range has a variety of toothbrushes and flosses for consumers and dentists alike. The latest launch came in the interdental sector with the TePe Angle brush, which is said to be easy to use and effective at the same time. According to the company, the handle’s proportions have been calculated to offer the best grip and the angled brush head accesses difficult to reach areas.

Protect and Perfect

Sales of oral care products have increased across the board in Spain, rising a respectable 2% to $471 million, according to SymphonyIRI Spain. Volume sales also increased a hefty 6% to 83 million units.
As with Italy, the majority of these sales were made in the mass market, specifically pharmacies, supermarkets and hypermarkets. In terms of volume sales, the biggest category was toothbrushes, which count for 65% of the market here whereas in terms of sales value, toothpaste and mouthwashes account for 54% and 23% of the market, respectively.

There have been a number of new product launches in the past year in Spain. The Sensodyne brand (GSK) has introduced the Repair and Protect fluoride toothpaste that is designed to repair and strengthen sensitive teeth rather than just relieve pain. The toothpaste, which is designed to be used every day, contains the patented NovaMin technology that, GSK says, is scientifically proven to repair teeth by forming a “tooth-like layer” over the exposed dentine.

Originally developed to support bone regeneration, NovaMin releases calcium and phosphate ions when it comes into contact with saliva or water. These ingredients are naturally attracted to exposed dentine, forming an optimum barrier to acids contained in food and drink within five days.

Spanish firm Laboratorios Lacer, meanwhile, has introduced a new formulation for its Lacer Blanc Plus toothpaste that has whitening, anti-plaque and anti-tartar action. The new product is said to be 94% effective in removing stains from teeth but is not too abrasive as to prevent daily use.

Solid Future?

The UK market for oral care also had a more mixed performance in the past year, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Value sales slipped 0.4%, yet still exceed $1.2 billion. In contrast, volume sales rose 3.6% to 462 million units.

GSK launched Odol-Med White & Shine in Germany.

With a penetration rate in the UK of 97%, toothpaste is used by most of the population but only 39% of UK consumers use mouthwash and an even smaller 18% use floss.

An emerging trend in the UK is for “solid” toothpastes, which are more convenient for travel purposes than traditional toothpastes and which can be popped in one’s handbag/pocket for a quick freshen up in a day-to-night situation.

Naturals company Lush recently branched out from bath and body care and launched Toothy Tabs, a solid toothpaste concept, now available in six flavors. The ethically-motivated brand developed them in response to statistics revealing two million tubes of toothpaste, each containing 4% of their original contents, find their way into UK landfills every year.

Although the figures can sometimes make the oral care category look a little stagnant, it can be seen that the oral care category in Europe is far from lacklustre and even if the figures aren’t up to scratch, the NPD in this sector is very encouraging.



European Cosmetic Markets is published monthly by HPCi Media Limited. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact HPCi Media Limited, Tel: (44) 0207 193 7447 • Fax: (44) 20 7549 8622

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