Online Exclusives

New Concepts in Oral Care

By Christine Esposito , Associate Editor | September 30, 2009

Will GSK�s Iso-active foaming gel shake up the $1.28 billion U.S. toothpaste market?

GSK is rolling out five new Iso-active varieties of Aquafresh and Sensodyne toothpastes, featuring a unique gel-to-foam action.
Toothpaste, for the most part, comes in the basic squeeze tube, and gels and pastes are pretty much the status quo in American bathrooms. GlaxoSmithKline is out to change all that with Iso-active foaming gel, a new form being touted in its Aquafresh and Sensodyne brands.

Billed by the company as a breakthrough technology in toothpaste—a market valued at $1.28 billion, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI)— Iso-active has an innovative foaming action which disperses active ingredients quickly to penetrate hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. This system, according to GSK, is key to obtaining overall oral health, in light of the fact that 40% of tooth surface is hidden between the teeth.

Iso-active toothpastes are packaged in bag-in-valve canisters. The gel-to-foam action is a result of the inclusion of isopentane, which responds to increases in temperature, which in this is case comes from the user’s mouth once they start brushing.

It’s a technology GSK has sold in Europe since 2007.

“Response in Europe has been very positive,” said Brian Yoshioka, expert shopper marketing manager at GlaxoSmithKline.

But more importantly, how will consumers react here in the U.S.?

“It is certainly different because of the amount of foam,” Mr. Yoshioka told Happi, noting that initial reaction to in-home testing in the U.S. was favorable from a user experience.

In addition GSK said consumer surveys showed there was a need for this kind of product. In an online national survey of more than 1000 adults regarding oral health care habits, 69% of respondents said it was very important that their toothpaste clean between their teeth, yet only 49% felt that their current toothpaste was very effective at doing so. Further, 68% did not realize how much of their tooth surface is hidden between the teeth.

Iso-active is available in five different varieties—Aquafresh Whitening Fresh Impact, Aquafresh Whitening Deep Impact, Aquafresh Whitening Lasting Impact, Sensodyne Multi-Action and Sensodyne Whitening—all of which hit shelves in August.

GSK is backing the launch with tactics it uses for other oral care products—incorporating both expert and direct-to-consumer marketing plans. The consumer campaign, which features TV, print and digital ads, broke in late September and will continue to the end of the fourth quarter.

These new GSK variants will take on market leaders Crest (P&G) and Colgate, which together hold 9 out of the top 10 spots in supermarket, drugstores and mass merchandise outlets (excluding Wal-Mart), according to IRI. The lone hold out is GSK’s Sensodyne, which ranks sixth.
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