The European oral hygiene market has experienced mixed fortunes during the past year. France and Germany posted declines in most categories while Italy, Spain and the UK have had more reason to smile, posting growth in value and volume terms.
Despite a strong 2007, last year was not as successful for France as the market dropped 1.7% to $1.38 billion, according to ACNielsen. Toothpaste sales in particular were badly hit, plummeting 13%; however, sales of toothpaste in French discount stores increased, adding an impressive 20% sales growth in this retail channel.
Receding gums are prevalent in France; one in four women over 45 claim to suffer from the problem. No wonder why manufacturers are offering a range of solutions.
For example, Tonigencyl (Colgate) has launched Soin Fortifiant Vital, which is enriched with oligo-elements, fluoride and an anti-bacterial agent to fortify gums and strengthen enamel.
Down in the Mouth
Although some sub-sectors have shown some promise, figures from IRI Germany for the first eight months of 2009 showed that the value of the oral hygiene market has fallen 12.5% to $645 million, although individual categories have had more success. For example, mouthwash sales rose 4.2% to $152 million, and toothpaste sales only slipped 0.6%.
Henkel launched four products in its Theramed range. First to debut was Theramed Dispenser Oxy White, a toothpaste designed for shiny white teeth and fresh breath with added oxygen particles. In August, Henkel rolled out Theramed 2in1 Arctic White, a toothpaste and mouthwash in one, and Theramed Toothbrush 3D Clean, which offers a three-dimensional cleaning experience for the teeth, gums and tongue. September saw the arrival of Theramed Dispenser Arctic White, which reportedly makes teeth whiter and offers up to 12 hours of arctic freshness.
The Italian oral hygiene sector managed to eek out a 3% gain to $950 million in 2008, according to Unipro. In Italy, it was mouthwashes rather than the traditional toothpastes which made the biggest gains, growing 9.9% to $220 million. Toothpastes meanwhile, added 2.5% to reach a healthy $732 million.
Industry insiders say that this boost in sales is due to increased education among the government and oral health associations in Italy.
And the pace of new product launches wasn’t slow either. Italian company L’Angelica (Coswell) capitalized on the popular natural trend by launching five new toothpastes based on 100% natural ingredients created to offer a solution to the most common oral health issues. Its Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste offers the calming and soothing action of tea tree oil extract and claims to prevent tartar build up while protecting from bacteria. The Sibancante Naturale toothpaste, meanwhile, features natural extracts of eucalyptus, sage and clay, said to naturally whiten the teeth.
Although many areas of Spain’s personal care sector have been hit by the recent economic uncertainties, it seems that oral hygiene is not one of them. According to AC Nielsen, this market put on a healthy 5.6% in the first half of this year, totalling $470 million. Mouthwash and dental floss sales are fuelling growth—mouthwash sales alone rocketed more than 20% while volume sales increased a healthy 11.6%.
Again, Henkel is a strong contender in the Spanish oral sector. Its flagship brand, Licor del Polo, recently launched 3D Clean White with four new products, including 3D Clean brush for inter-dental cleaning that incorporates tongue cleaner and gum massage, and 3D Clean White mouthwash for whiter teeth and fresher breath. Finally, Licor del Polo added two toothpaste products to its range in the form of 2-in-1 Arctic Fresh with whitening micro-pearls and OxyWhite in tube toothpaste form.
Doing All White
The UK oral hygiene market kept its standards high as it grew 2% to nearly $1.3 billion in the first 10 months of 2009, according to TNS Worldpanel. Volume rose 2.3% to 434.4 million units. The most popular oral hygiene brands in the UK are Colgate (Colgate-Palmolive), Oral B (Procter & Gamble) and Aquafresh (GSK), according to TNS, with more of these products flying off UK shelves in the past year than ever before.
When it came to new product launches, there was much activity in the mouthwash sector, which is fast becoming a stalwart of the industry.
Listerine (Johnson & Johnson) has targeted sensitive teeth in particular with new Total Care Sensitive Mouthwash. It contains potassium nitrate, which has a soothing effect and protects against sensitivity and is also said to help freshen breath and reduce plaque formation.
What a mixed year it has been! While the oral hygiene sectors in some of the European Big 5 have suffered, some have experienced good fortune, with seemingly no rhyme or reason to it. One thing is certain, launch pace and educational initiatives must be maintained in order for sales to improve. In this category, education and promotion would seem to be the keys to longevity.