Toothbrush toothpaste

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Toothpaste is the only oral care category in value decline – albeit at a slower rate than last year

Brits have said bye-bye to bad breath, snapping up an extra 2.6 million packs of mouthwash over the past year. In fact, mouthwash is, arguably, 2021’s standout performer in oral care. After a humdrum 2020, the sector has grown value by 5.3% to £140.6m, with brands largely driving gains. The top five are all in the black, having added a total of £7.8m.

“Brands within mouthwash have seen stronger success than in other oral care categories as shoppers prioritise a full oral care regime given the focus on health and hygiene that Covid has brought on,” says NielsenIQ consultant Ben Hanson.

The growth in toothbrush sales is less sizeable by comparison – but still significant. After the £28.5m decline reported last year, the market is up by £2.4m. Oral-B and Waterpik are the biggest winners, pulling in an extra £8.5m between them.

Only toothpaste is in value decline – albeit at a slower rate than last year. Four out of the top five brands are in growth after “effectively focusing on specific oral care benefits, such as whitening or gum care” says Hanson. He points to Sensodyne, the largest toothpaste brand in growth with a value of £99.1m.


While Colgate still leads the sector, its value has dipped by 4%. The brand “has been unable to remain as stable in the market as competitor brands” Hanson notes. “This has been combined with suffering the most from the travel size toothpaste market disappearing as a result of Covid.”

Having also suffered a 4% decline in toothbrush sales, Colgate has moved to offset losses by tapping the sustainability trend with Link, an aluminium brush with a replaceable head (see Top Launch, below). Following the brand’s January 2020 launch of Smile for Good toothpaste in “the first ever” recyclable tube, it’s part of a growing movement among oral care’s biggest players to address shoppers’ concerns about the low recyclability of packaging and brushes.

In May, Unilever pledged to convert its global toothpaste portfolio entirely to recyclable tubes by 2025, while GSK Consumer Healthcare also said it would launch fully recyclable products.

Top Launch 2021

Colgate Link | Colgate-Palmolive


With millions of toothbrushes ending up in UK landfill each year, in June Colgate moved to help shoppers looking to cut down on plastic waste. It unveiled Link, a reusable toothbrush handle made from sturdy aluminium. Only its replaceable heads need be disposed of after use, meaning Link uses 80% less plastic than a regular manual brush. Available in blue and silver, it comes as a starter kit with two heads. Extra heads can be found in Deep Clean and Whitening (rsp: £7 for two).

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends