Hollywood smiles are so hot right now, as they might say in Tinsel-town. Toothpaste’s value growth of 2.5%, worth £10.3m to grocery, over volumes down 0.7%, is being driven by the development of pricier whitening pastes such as Colgate Max White and Oral B Glamorous Shine, both launched in 2014.

The other trend that’s driving growth, says P&G commercial director Ian Morley, is growing concern over oral health. “Consumers are prepared to invest to keep their teeth healthy and avoid costly dental treatment,” he says. “Secondly, consumers are increasingly prepared to invest in oral care regimes around specific end benefits like whitening.”

This is borne out by the performance of condition-specific toothpaste offerings from Oral B and Sensodyne, which have enjoyed value sales growth of 17% and 4% respectively over the past year; volumes are up 14.2% for Oral B and 2.5% for Sensodyne, reflecting the ongoing premiumisation of the category.

oral care tpt

In toothbrushes, sector leader Oral B’s 6.7% value growth over volumes up 0.9% partly reflects the development of more sophisticated, pricier electric toothbrushes. According to P&G, more than 30% of UK households have a power brush, and retailers have woken up to the opportunities this category presents, says Morley.

The trend is also playing out in mouthwash. “Similar to pastes and the everyday products, there has been a transitional trend in the mouthwash category towards more specialised products,” says James Turner, GSK lead manager for dental health. “Medicated mouthwashes are continuing to grow, and Corsodyl is driving much of that growth.”

Accordingly, this year Corsodyl posted value sales growth of 6.7%, while Oral B posted a whopping 21.4% rise in sales. Not everyone’s looking so fresh in mouthwash, however: Listerine’s sales have been flat over the past year, while Aquafresh has seen 17.5% of its value, or £1.4m, go down the plughole.

The GSK brand is also struggling in toothpaste, with sales down 11% on volumes down 13%. It is hoping to breathe new life into its performance following the summer launch of a Sugar Acid Protection variant.


Top launch: Maximum Cavity Protection Plus by Colgate

Colgate-Palmolive scored an industry first this year when it launched a toothpaste made with technology that directly fights sugar acids in July.

Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection Plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser neutralises sugar acids in plaque and helps to deactivate them before they can harm teeth, the company claims.

It took Colgate eight years to develop the new range, which comprises a toothpaste for adults (£3.79), a mild mint-flavoured variant for children, a mouthwash and a toothbrush.