Most Europeans stick to a basic brushing routine and few feel the need for mouthwash and/or interdental products, such as floss or small brushes. According to Kantar Worldpanel, Spanish consumers have the most evolved oral care routine, using more than one product in 44% occasions. They are most likely to add in mouthwash and the Spanish also have the most mouthwash-only occasions. By contrast, French consumers have the most simplified oral care regime. A total of 82% only brush their teeth, while just 10% use both toothpaste and mouthwash. Floss usage among French consumers is the lowest of all Europeans.
A primary reason for using toothpaste is to freshen breath, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The exception is Spain, where prevention of tartar and plaque is the main priority. Interestingly, using toothpaste to whiten teeth is not a top requirement for European consumers, despite so many products carrying such a claim. Recent introductions include BlanX Instant White non-abrasive daily toothpaste containing a light activated ingredient called ActiluX; Diamond Whites Black Edition 100% Natural Charcoal Tooth Polish made from 100% activated coconut shell charcoal; and Janna Clean & White Extra Fresh Teeth Whitening Foam which contains new oxygenating technology and ultra low abrasion to clean and whiten teeth.
Don’t Slip Through the Cracks
Interdental products have the most consistent reasons for use across the markets; that is, to clean in-between teeth and to protect or maintain healthy gums. Education by dental professionals and media regarding the benefits of interdental products has the potential to grow this emerging category. Promoting ease of use is another route to increased consumer usage. For example, TePe EasyPick is a new interdental pick with a non-slip grip and tapered head that claims to reach the hidden 40% of the tooth missed by regular brushing. Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that can develop over time as a result of receding gums and enamel wear caused by over-brushing and/or acidic beverages. New Sensodyne Repair & Protect Whitening uses patented NoveMin technology to form a protective tooth-like layer over vulnerable areas where dentine is exposed. Over time, teeth are said to be less prone to sensitivity.
Sustainability in Oral Care
For many consumer product markets, sustainability is a leading innovation driver and oral care is no exception. According to Mintel, multinationals have been comparatively slow to react to the fast-evolving consumer demand for products with smaller environmental footprints. One exception is Colgate-Palmolive, which recently committed to making 100% of its packaging recyclable, including a recyclable toothpaste tube, although the tube will not be rolled out until 2020.
UK start-up Poppits is introducing a sustainable packaging concept for toothpaste. Its product consists of individual soft gel pods made from plant-derived cellulose film that melts in the mouth like a breath strip. The toothpaste formulation is fluoride-free and made from natural ingredients. According to Mintel, Poppits is setting a new standard for environmentally sustainable toothpastes; its all-natural, animal ingredient-free formula eliminates the need for plastic tubes.
A majority of Europeans are concerned about the use of chemicals in personal hygiene products. According to Canadean, 51% of European consumers are either very or extremely concerned about the impact of chemicals on health and appearance. An example of a recent oral care launch formulated with natural ingredients is German brand Sante Naturkosemtik Dental Med Vitamin B12, which is organic and suitable for vegans. Another is Lush, which has introduced a mouthwash in a tablet format made from natural ingredients and aimed at consumers on the go.
Manual Tops Electric
According to Canadean research, just 10% of European consumers use digital tools to monitor or manage their dental hygiene needs. However, the potential remains great as 31% of consumers would consider using these in the future.
“Age group appears to be largely influential in these statistics, as younger consumers appear more willing to experiment with the digitization of oral care as opposed to their older peers,” said Lia Neophytou, associate analyst, Canadean.
Smart electric toothbrushes appear to be the way forward and reflect the use of technology to determine efficacy of products in other personal care categories from skin care to hair care. In July, Dutch-owned Philips launched its new brush called Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected, which is designed to help consumer identify the areas of the mouth missed in their current brushing routine. The brush syncs with an app to track brushing habits in real time (without the use of a camera) and provide a personalized 3D mouth map to help coach consumers on their brushing technique. It features a program to get users to revisit areas they may have missed. In addition, there is a feature that allows dental practitioners to give patients advice to help maintain cleaning between check-ups.
Oral-B Genius is another intelligent toothbrush with Bluetooth technology that gives real time feedback while cleaning for improved brushing habits. According to Oral-B, up to 80% of people spend insufficient time brushing in at least one mouth zone. Combining motion sensors with facial recognition software, the user gets feedback from the pressure indicator, brushing timer and Bluetooth connection on his smart phone.
Connectivity is an exciting way to promote better oral hygiene habits, but for most European consumers improved dental health will come from a multi-step routine. It is up to oral care brands to educate them about the benefits of brushing, flossing, gargling and the like.
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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.