Sales of tooth-whitening products look set to explode as consumers demand that little bit extra from toothpaste

As dental hygiene is becoming less and less of a problem in the UK, analysts have forecasted that tooth-whitening products could be set for exponential growth as consumers look to get more out of their toothpaste than just protection.
Thanks to its positioning as a beauty product and, according to Dragon brand consultancy’s Claire Nuttall, the sector’s ability to send out a “positive message” to consumers, suppliers believe that the whitening sector’s share of the total oral care market could be about to explode.
According to Lornamead Network Management’s European marketing director Morwenna Angove, sales of whitening products in the US have soared by 800% in value in the past four years as consumers seek out a Hollywood smile.
“There is more and more pressure on young people to look better and whitening your teeth is one of the more dramatic ways of doing this,” she says.
Lornamead, which markets the Brilliant tooth whitening system in UK grocery multiples, also believes that the recent EU decision to ban tooth-whitening products containing more than 0.1% peroxide in the UK will also help boost the market.
“Recent uncertainty about the possibility of peroxide systems entering the UK has dampened grocers’ attitudes to stocking non-peroxide systems, but now we have such a definitive decision I do believe all that is going to change.”
Lornamead estimates that Boots enjoys around a 50% share of the UK tooth-whitening market and the company itself markets the more premium Rapid White tooth-whitening system as a Boots exclusive. Angove believes that key to Boots’ success in this market is the added reassurance its name gives to product efficacy and safety.
However, Nuttall believes this approach flags up a potential area of concern.
“The category is really ripe for some good innovation, but UK consumers are quite demanding and, therefore, product performance claims have to be carefully matched to consumers’ expectations,” she says.
“Products that guarantee you a Hollywood smile, for example, could be heading for a fall if they don’t deliver. UK consumers will expect these claims to work, so somebody needs to take control and do a good job on managing expectations.”
Her words will be something that players such as GlaxoSmithKline, which this year is promoting its Macleans White ‘n’ Shine toothpaste range and Oral B, which entered the toothpaste-whitening market in April when it acquired the Rembrandt whitening range, will do well to heed.