More Europeans Brush Up Their Oral Care Routines

By Imogen Matthews, Consultant | December 3, 2013

Oral care is big business in Europe, worth $11.7 billion in 2012 and growing more than 3% a year, according to Datamonitor. Some consumers are becoming more oral care conscious and adopting more extensive daily regimes, while demanding more from the products they use.

Over half of European oral care sales were accounted for by toothpaste, as recorded by Datamonitor. There has been increasing demand for mouthwash as the oral market develops. Another key trend has been the rise in the use of electronic toothbrushes, which have become more affordable in recent years.  

The profile of toothpaste purchasing varies country by country. Two thirds of oral care purchases in Russia are for toothpaste, while only 41% of UK sales are in this category. UK consumers have a wider repertoire of oral care products, including mouthwash and dental floss.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, 80% of people across Europe use toothpaste 12 times a week, on average. However, brushing twice a day is still not the norm, apart from in Spain, although the frequency of toothpaste usage is increasing.

A worrying trend can be seen among teenagers and young adults, with a dip in toothpaste usage/brushing teeth among 17-24 year olds. Kantar Worldpanel suggests this decline may correspond with young people leaving home to study.

Despite the increase in toothpaste launches promising multiple performance benefits, most Europeans primarily use toothpaste to clean their teeth (97%). Some 38% use it to freshen breath, while 36% do so to maintain healthy teeth. More cosmetic benefits, such as whitening teeth (16%) and removing stains (7%) are further down the list.

Many toothpaste formulations include whitening as a key cosmetic benefit. The latest innovation in daily whitening toothpaste comes from BlanX White Shock, which contains the patented ActiluX formula that reacts to light to whiten the teeth every time you smile and claims to keep working all day long. The ActiluX in BlanX White Shock reacts to the specially designed LED light accelerator to boost the whitening action.

Oral-B has launched 3D White Luxe toothpaste, a premium whitening formula that claims to remove 80% of surface stains in two weeks. The formulation has 32% more polyphosphates and a unique dual silica system that lifts stains to reveal the teeth’s natural whiteness. The hydrated silica cleans teeth to remove surface stains.

Oral-B Pro Expert, a new range of toothpastes containing stannous fluoride, is clinically proven to protect against gum problems, plaque buildup, bad breath, sensitivity and cavities.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, 34% of European consumers use a mouthwash on average eight times a week. The French are much less likely to use mouthwash, despite bad breath being their third biggest oral concern. Spanish consumers are the most enthusiastic users of mouthwash at 44% of the population and averaging nine times a week. The gender split is almost equal across Europe, with mouthwash becoming slightly more popular among older users.

The main reason for using a mouthwash is to freshen breath (73%) and maintain healthy gums and teeth (50%). More medical benefits, such as anti-plaque (18%), prevention of cavities (16%) and gum disease (7%), are far less important.

As with toothpastes, mouthwashes are increasingly multifunctional, offering a range of oral health benefits in one. Ultradex Recalcifying & Whitening Daily Oral Rinse uses two technologies developed in conjunction with Queen Mary University London. SensiShield technology incorporates hydroxyapatite (the key building block of teeth), to provide a protective enamel shield, fill in microscopic enamel cracks and recalcify the tooth surface. IQ+ActiveOxi technology oxidizes stains, such as tea, coffee and red wine and promises 12 hours of fresh breath by destroying odor-causing compounds.

Manual toothbrush usage is in decline across Europe as consumers turn to electric toothbrushes, especially in the teenage and older age groups. More people are using electric toothbrushes in Germany (36%) compared to the rest of Western Europe (25%).

According Philips, a leading electric toothbrush brand, 94% of German dentists recommend power toothbrush solutions, up from 89% in 2010, citing results of an independent panel. Dutch dentists are also almost uniformly in favor of the electric option (98%), compared to slightly fewer UK dentists (86%).

After Philips launched DiamondClean, a premium power toothbrush in 2011, the market for high-end premium rechargeable toothbrushes increased by 27% in Germany and by 16.9% in the UK. DiamondClean Black is clinically proven to remove up to 100% of plaque from hard to reach places and improve gum health within two weeks. It relies on powerful sonic technology (31,000 strokes a minute), yet is gentler than a manual toothbrush, helping to keep teeth stronger and healthier for longer.

Interdental Products
As with mouthwash, France lags far behind other European countries in terms of interdental product usage. Just 10% of French consumers use an interdental product compared with 21% for Western Europe as a whole. Some 28% of Germans and 27% of Italians use these products as part of their oral routine. European interdental product users are much more likely to be female (62%) with product usage driven by a desire for complete oral hygiene (73%).

The new Philips Sonicare Airfloss is an innovative solution for those who don’t floss consistently. It works by firing a microburst of air and water or mouthwash in-between the teeth to remove plaque where brushing cannot reach. According to Philips, the Airfloss is proven to remove 99% more plaque from between teeth than brushing alone.

Oral care is a category ripe for expansion, given the relatively low levels of penetration for categories such as mouthwash and interdental products. Education will be key to encouraging consumers to look after their teeth more regularly and more thoroughly, while continued product innovation will help to drive up interest. 

Imogen Matthews
Headington, Oxford UK
Tel: +44 1865 764918

Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.
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