Dental time bomb is ticking, according to a recent survey of UK dentists conducted by Wrigley. Poor dental hygiene and over-consumption of fizzy drinks and fast or sugary foods by young adults has prompted dentists to call for a ‘back to basics’ approach to oral healthcare.


That’s how much the total impulse oral care category is worth, up 0.9% year on year, according to GlaxoSmithKline

“I speak to a lot of dentists who tell me young people think they can fix everything and so they leave it too late, rather than taking preventative care,” says Wrigley Extra brand manager Katie Codd. “They spend more time brushing their hair than their teeth!”

In order to strike a chord with younger consumers, the firm has launched Wrigley Extra White Bubblemint. “Dentists told us that the most ‘at risk’ consumer group in terms of oral care are people in their late teens and twenties,” says Codd. “That is one of the reasons we launched Bubblemint. It appeals to the younger age group and helps them to understand about oral care. It’s a hybrid between bubblegum flavour and cooling mint - it’s got a flavour, but it’s sugar-free, and British Dental Health Foundation accredited. It’s bringing young people into the market.”

The firm has launched a Superstar Smile campaign fronted by Made In Chelsea TV star Binky Felstead to further engage the youth market

“Young people feel invincible; oral care doesn’t register with them so we have to find ways to engage with them, such as our Superstar Smile campaign, which targets 16- to 24-year-olds,” says Codd.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has also been capturing the attention of young people. But rather than opting for celebrity endorsement, the firm’s current Corsodyl TV campaign is taking a hard-hitting approach to shock consumers into action. The current ad shows a glamorous young woman who reveals she has a missing tooth, while a voice-over warns consumers that if their teeth bleed during brushing, it could be a sign of gum disease.

Retailer’s view

“Toothpaste is a steady seller. We offer 17 different varieties, from brands including Aquafresh, Colgate, Oral-B and Sensodyne. I think people are starting to understand oral care more because of adverts on TV telling you about the importance of looking after your gums, as well as teeth.

“The market is starting to change - brands such as Sensodyne used to be more specialist, but now they are becoming more mainstream. Whitening is an emerging area - we stock Aquafresh, Oral-B and Colgate whitening varieties. We are also offering more promotions through Musgrave, helping to drive sales.

“Chewing gum does very well, too. We have dedicated gum displays at each of the tills, offering six types of Wrigley’s Extra chewing gum.”

Paul Wilks, Budgens Bedgrove, Buckinghamshire

The firm not only urges consumers to take action to fight gum disease if they are showing symptoms, but also to use Corsodyl Daily as a preventative measure, thus widening the brand’s customer base. “The Corsodyl Daily products not only appeal to existing customers, but also tap into a new consumer base and continue to educate consumers about the importance of everyday protection against plaque to help maintain healthy gums,” says category management controller Georgina Thomas.

The firm is also promoting its latest Sensodyne toothpaste as a daily product, rather than a specialist paste. New Sensodyne Complete Protection offers seven different benefits, including beauty-focused attributes, such as ‘helping teeth to maintain their natural whiteness’, as well as aiding sensitivity issues. The firm claims that beauty is the fastest growing area within oral care, growing at 26.3% year on year within impulse.

GSK has claimed that people are often under the misconception that sensitive toothpaste compromises on other areas, and it has been keen to dispel the myth that the £52m Sensodyne brand is solely for medicinal purposes. “Some 40% of our target consumers say that whitening toothpastes are the type they use most often; 26% say sensitivity is their driving factor for purchase; and 18% look for plaque and gum benefits,” says brand manager Lucie Favre. “By providing benefits in one complete sensitivity toothpaste we are best-positioned to target consumers looking for toothpaste that offers complete sensitivity protection, without compromising on the benefit their daily toothpaste can offer.”

Top tips on gum

• Make sure gum is in the correct place - site it at eye level at the till point for best results

• Availability is key - restock shelves in the morning and in advance of peak times

• POS - make the most of point-of-sale material to grab shoppers’ attention

• Keep the display tidy

• Make sure you champion npd - if it’s on TV, then flag it up in-store

• Secondary siting is a huge opportunity

Source: Wrigley

Wrigley Extra is equally keen to establish itself as a product to be consumed on a daily basis in order to maintain good oral hygiene. The £110m brand continues to highlight the fact that chewing gum after every meal helps neutralise plaque acid with its Eat, Drink, Chew campaign. “We want people to understand that after a cup of coffee it’s beneficial to chew,” says Codd. “It’s important to understand that it’s a healthier option.”

By linking gum consumption with other food stuffs, the campaign has also opened up opportunities for retailers to increase impulse sales. “The Eat, Drink, Chew campaign helps to drive secondary siting, which can increase sales up to 55%,” says Codd.
Perfetti Van Melle, which manufactures sugar-free Mentos Pure Fresh gum, agrees that retailers should consider multiple sitings. “There is the opportunity for retailers to give secondary sitings to chewing gum in several areas away from the traditional counter space, which reflect not only gum’s product characteristics, but also how shoppers purchase it,” says Mentos brand manager Claire Powley. “The coffee area is a strong candidate, and so is alcohol where shoppers may be purchasing for a night out and may make a link between an alcohol purchase and a pack of gum for the following morning to help freshen up.”

She states that there are various display mechanisms that can be used, including clip strips, gravity feed units and ‘cling-on’ units that hang from the shelf lip, but without protruding too far into the aisle.

Another way to increase gum sales is to ensure that you are stocking the right pack sizes. While stick packs are the most popular format, re-sealable packs promise strong potential. Following extensive consumer research, Perfetti Van Melle found that traditional stick-pack chewing gum is not consumers’ preferred choice. “When questioned in-depth they wanted more from their everyday chewing gum pack,” says Powley.

“Consumers told us that most packaging formats available at the moment felt like a compromise. While stick packs have long been the norm, consumers told us that the gum falls out in their pockets; there is a perception that it tends to go ‘stale’; and the gum itself is too small so that they need to eat two or three pieces at a time.”

As a result, Mentos has launched a resealable pocket pouch of its liquid centre Pure Fresh gum. The Pure Fresh brand is growing at 83% year on year.

Squeeze out more sales

When it comes to deciding which toothpaste brands to stock, the choice is enough to wipe the smile off any retailer’s face. However, GSK category controller Georgina Thomas believes the key to success is to make sure you stick to a range of sizes and a choice of at least two adult brands of toothpaste and one kid’s brand.

She recommends you include a high-quality brand toothpaste variant within your selection, and always put premium brands in prime locations.

When it comes to merchandising, Thomas stresses the importance of supporting NPD and maximising promotional events to keep customers interested. Use POS to navigate consumers to and around the healthcare section, she says, and allocate space to growing sectors. Beauty is the fastest growing need state in oral care, worth £1.6m, and driven solely by toothpaste.

Wrigley has also witnessed demand for smaller re-sealable packs. “There is huge potential growth with smaller pack formats within bottles,” says Codd. “They have a lower recommended retail price than the bigger packs and are ideal when sitting at a desk. They tap into the grazing trend.”

This year saw the launch of the firm’s smaller bottle format; the 46-pellet bottle retails at £1.99. The company predicts that the launch will add an additional £12m in retail sales value to the gum category.

“Providing better value for shoppers, the handy format lends itself perfectly to occasions such as work and travel, meaning that consumers can ‘eat, drink, chew’ more often,” said managing director Hamish Thomson. “Gum is one of the most impulsive categories and research indicates that the bottle format will drive chewing frequency and volume. In Germany, for example, 46-pellet bottles represent 30% of the country’s total gum category. And a recent study from China demonstrated that consumers who buy bottles chew twice as much every week, compared with those who buy 10-pellet packs.”

As a result of bigger pack sizes, secondary sitings, and strong oral care marketing campaigns, the UK gum market continues to grow, up 4% in the convenience channel over the 52 weeks to May 25, 2013, according to Pefetti Van Melle. “This suggests that convenience retailers are doing the right things, but there is always room for further success,” says Powley.

Ones to watch

An all-rounder

Sensodyne Complete Protection from GlaxoSmithKline not only helps with sensitivity, but it claims to strengthen enamel, freshen breath, control plaque and help keep teeth white. It comes in Sensodyne Complete Protection and Sensodyne Complete Protection Extra Fresh.

tel: 08702 415 132

A lot of bottle

Wrigley hopes to increase chewing gum consumption with a new packaging format. Its 46-pellet bottles are well suited to occasions such as work and travel. Airwaves Menthol & Eucalyptus, Extra Ice Peppermint and Extra White are available in this format.

rrp: £1.99

tel: 01752 752 094

A little sweetener

Sugar-free mint Smint is targeting commuters this summer with a national sampling campaign in city locations across the UK. Up 8% year on year within the convenience channel, Smint contains natural sweetener xylitol, which not only helps prevent tooth decay, but can break down plaque.

tel: 01753 442 100

Child’s play

GSK has relaunched its Aquafresh Kids range of toothbrushes and pastes for children. Supported by a £2.2m marketing investment, including TV spots on kid’s channels Boomerang and Cartoonito, the firm will highlight how enamel on kids’ teeth requires special protection.

tel: 08702 415 132

Seal of approval

New Mentos resealable pocket packs from Perfetti Van Melle are predicted to go down well with c-store shoppers who want formats that are portable and can stand the rigours of a pocket or a handbag. They are available in both fresh mint and spearmint flavours.

rrp: 59p

tel: 01753 442 100