Since 2014, European consumers have become more conscious about the need for good dental health. According to GlobalData, fewer than a third of Europeans were concerned about dental abscesses/caries in 2014, but this rose to more than half of consumers by 2017.
“This is encouraging consumers to be more active in their oral care routines and to find more effective products,” said Peter Hays, associate analyst, GlobalData, pointing out that this is most pronounced in South Eastern Europe, where around three quarters of Greek and Romanian consumers are concerned about dental abscesses/caries compared to fewer than half of UK and French consumers. The reason? The weaker economies of Greece and Romania will have led to reduced access to dental service, he explained.
“Consumers in these countries are more likely to be proactive in their oral care habits in order to compensate for lack of medical attention.”
A Matter of Taste
According to Kantar Worldpanel, German consumers are the most diligent of all Europeans with 40% brushing twice daily, compared with a European average of 27%. The Germans also spend the most time on an oral care regimen, averaging 3.2 minutes for their routines, which include brushing, flossing and mouthwash. Breath freshening (42.8%) is the number one reason Europeans spend time on their oral care routine, followed by 38.4% who want to protect or have healthy gums. Taste also features strongly among 32.3% of Europeans, especially Germans, who are most likely to choose toothpastes and mouthwashes according to how they taste.
Despite a growing consciousness about dental health issues and innovation in the oral care space, Europeans need convincing of the need for more steps in their daily routine. Hays believes that teeth need to be seen as a natural accessory that requires multi-step routines conducted daily, mirroring the trend in skin care regimens where consumers might use five or more products daily. The signs are encouraging and recent GlobalData insights show that two in five Europeans say they often try new varieties of toothpaste, with similar rates of experimentation within toothbrushes.
“Consumer willingness to experiment will make the market more competitive as new entrants try to carve out key niches among consumers,” states Hays.
Innovative new toothpastes include Splat Express Oral Care Foam (UK) which reportedly removes dental plaque without the use of water and can be used with or without a brush. The product comes in a portable format and is aimed at consumers who frequently travel or live active lifestyles. Splat also manufactures Blackwood Charcoal Toothpaste, a striking black paste that claims to whiten and remove stains leaving teeth feeling fresh and clean. Juniper extract gives the toothpaste its pungent flavor.
Consumer interest in natural and organic products is helping drive sales growth in the toothpaste and mouthwash categories.
“Purchasing natural products is largely a lifestyle choice, reflecting a combination of environmental awareness and health consciousness,” observes Hays.
A natural formulation positioning can be a strong way for brands to stand out from the pack. According to GlobalData’s 2017 survey, nearly half of European consumers say that natural ingredients would make them more likely to choose one brand over another. However, natural products are often perceived as being less effective, with only two in five European consumers agreeing that natural products can be as effective as non-natural products. Emphasizing efficacy through natural solutions and the addition of actives will be key for brands with a natural positioning.
For example, Green People’s natural toothpastes are free from fluoride, SLS and triclosan and made with organic essential oils, vitamin C and myrrh, which are said to protect the mouth from bacterial growth naturally without the use of synthetic ingredients.
With increased pressure to replace microbeads in toiletries, silica is proving a popular, eco-friendly effective alternative in oral care.
“Brands should take the opportunity for microbead replacements to boost whitening toothpastes, particularly as these are seen as a safer option than whitening kits,” observed Andrew McDougall, global beauty and personal care analyst, Mintel.
With personalization a hot trend in beauty and personal care, brands are using technology to make oral care more individual for users. According to Mintel, this ties in with European consumers’ interest in oral care products that produce instant visible results. A 2015 study showed that consumers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain almost universally said they were interested in such products, while 45% of Spanish consumers stated they would consider paying more. An example is Oral-B’s latest power product that uses Bluetooth technology to provide users with a customizable guide for their oral care regimen. The Oral-B 700 power toothbrush system receives direct feedback from the Oral-B app on users’ phones, alerting them if they brush too hard or soft and for the requisite amount of time. Users can also track their oral care progress over time and receive reminders when it is time to change brush heads.
Quip, the US electric toothbrush subscription service, has launched in Europe, providing a new way for consumers to take control of their brushing routine. The electric toothbrush is slim and lightweight with a two-minute timer and new brush heads are delivered every three months. Another creative approach to brushing is Foreo Issa which combines sonic pulse technology and silicone brushes that are soft and hygienic and designed to last for six months.
Mintel’s McDougall notes that products such as sonic toothbrushes or electric flossers may also be used to compensate for less-than-perfect routines.
“Consumers may be attracted to the idea that, although their brushing frequency may be lacking, the improved cleaning of sonic technology may make up for this.”
Overall, an interest in benefits and products that go that extra mile will contribute to the on-going appeal of oral care technology.
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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.