Dental Care: The £1 Billion Market
Dentists recommend you change your toothbrush every three months – people do that, right? Well… not even I do that, and I’m working with this information every day. I know I should, but then I think… I’ll just push it a little longer.
The dental care market is worth almost £1bn in the UK, which is more than any of the other personal care categories.
The dental care market is worth almost £1bn in the UK, which is more than any of the other personal care categories, including hair care, washing & bathing, and deodorants. It’s also the most recession-proof personal care category – people still brush their teeth when everything else around them is on fire. So, it’s a big sales opportunity if you can get it right in your store.
Understanding how people think about their dental hygiene (…how they brush their teeth) can help you stock the right products. People have different needs beyond just ‘making their teeth clean’. It’s natural to think that a general, multi-purpose toothpaste is what most people would want to use, but that’s not necessarily the case.
The biggest segment of the market is not ‘general cleaning’. It’s ‘sensitive’. This does vary by channel, but it’s easy to dismiss sensitive products as ‘specialist’ and gravitate automatically towards the ‘complete care’ and ‘cavity protection’ products when selecting your range, especially for convenience store operators.
There are seven distinct shopper needs in dental care:
It would be lovely to stock all of these, but convenience stores obviously have a limited amount of shelf space, and toothpaste does have the slight inconvenience of taking up rather a lot of this space because of the shape and size of the packs.
The good news is that you can cover a significant chunk of the market with a small number of SKUs, if you list the right ones. And there’s a bit of a dilemma here because the products usually listed in convenience stores do not line up with what people are looking for in the rest of the UK market.
Colgate Cavity Protection is the go-to product for most convenience stores. It’s great value (£1 PMP), and Colgate is one of the most easily recognisable, trusted brands in the world, giving the shopper confidence that the product is good quality. BUT… cavity protection is only 8% of the UK market. What shoppers are looking for is sensitive (around a third of the market), complete care (a quarter) and whitening (24%). So, you will grow sales by satisfying these need states.
A high proportion of toothbrush purchases are made on impulse, usually because the shopper ‘forgot they needed it until they saw it in store’.
- Colgate Total Original Care Toothpaste 75ml PMP £2.00 (EAN 5056267000838)* covers the ‘complete care’ shopper.
- Next in line is Oral B Pro Expert Professional Protection Toothpaste 75ml (EAN 5013965948428), which has extremely high shopper loyalty.
- Colgate Advanced White Toothpaste 50ml PMP £1.00 (EAN 8714789498591) covers the ‘whitening’ shopper, and also doubles as an entry-level shopper for those looking for the lowest price
- For the sensitive shopper, Sensodyne Repair and Protect Toothpaste 75ml (EAN 5054563100832) is the market leader, but if you want a PMP then Colgate Sensitive Instant Relief Toothpaste 75ml (EAN 5056267000876)* is a great option.
*The PMP versions of Colgate Total Original Care 75ml and Colgate Sensitive Instant Relief 75ml are produced by and are exclusive to DCS.
The ‘complete care’ and ‘sensitive’ products have higher price points, but shoppers are buying these products elsewhere and they are willing to pay for them, especially if you give them price confidence by stocking the PMPs. There are more premium versions of ‘whitening’ products as well, for example, Charcoal Advanced White Charcoal Toothpaste 75ml PMP £2.00, but the Advanced White SKU does two jobs by satisfying both the entry-level budget shoppers and the whitening shoppers.
It takes some bravery to suggest you don’t need Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste 75ml PMP £1.00 in your range, simply because it sells well in convenience stores. But part of the reason it sells so well is that everyone stocks it. If you have space, you probably do need it (and it still appears in our core range recommendations), but by covering the ‘sensitive’, ‘whitening’ and ‘complete care’ shoppers first, you still undoubtedly grow your sales.
That’s toothpaste covered, and I’ll cover more about toothbrushes, mouthwash, and oral accessories (floss etc) next time.
Before I finish, a quick word on changing your toothbrush every three months. The reason is that bacteria builds up over time. I have heard (…not from the technical experts, it has to be said) that you can at least partially fix this by running your toothbrush through the dishwasher. I’m definitely not endorsing that as the right thing to do, but the point is that shoppers stretch the life of their toothbrush as long as they can, and therefore it’s not on their shopping list. A high proportion of toothbrush purchases are made on impulse, usually because the shopper ‘forgot they needed it until they saw it in store’. This means you can drive sales by locating toothbrushes in high-visibility places such as aisle ends, especially when on promotion.
More on the rest of the dental care category next time. In the meantime, you can check out our category insight videos on YouTube here and follow us on LinkedIn for all the latest in category and market insights at your fingertips.