Something to smile about

The oral-care category is seeing an array of new products that target specific needs

The aging consumer often has sensitive teeth and would therefore turn to a sensitive toothpaste,” says Veronique Hamel, director of marketing, Church & Dwight. “Also, yellow or discoloured teeth give the impression of looking older, so people want to whiten teeth in order to achieve a more youthful look. This has led to the trend of whitening strips.”

Sensitive side

However, the Catch-22 with whitening products is they can occasionally lead to tooth sensitivity, which is why there has been an increased demand for sensitive oral-care products, according to Hamel. In March, Arm & Hammer will launch Sensitive Gel Daily Care Protection toothpaste, as the company has seen a rise in the popularity of mint-flavoured gels.

At Procter & Gamble, a number of new initiatives have been launched to meet the needs of consumers with tooth-sensitivity issues. The first of these sensitivity products, from Crest and Oral-B, recently hit the market. Each is designed to provide sensitivity protection for teeth and gums. “For example, the Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield paste builds increasing protection against painful sensitivity while it also fights the rest of the areas dentists check most: cavities, gingivitis, plaque, tartar and halitosis bacteria,” says Melissa Karis, external relations, Procter & Gamble Canada. Other new innovations in the sensitive category include Crest Pro-Health floss for Sensitive Gums, designed to make flossing more comfortable; and Oral-B Advantage Sensitive toothbrush, which helps protect teeth and gums. Meanwhile, the Oral-B Vitality Sensitive Clean rechargeable power toothbrush has a softer brush head that is gentle on teeth and gums.

Make a splash

Mouthwash is also going beyond its traditional role of breath freshener and bacteria killer. Johnson & Johnson recently introduced Listerine Total Care For Sensitive Teeth—a product that targets the multiple causes of tooth sensitivity by strengthening tooth enamel, fighting gingivitis to prevent gum recession and reducing pain. The company also launched Listerine Whitening Plus Restoring Fluoride rinse in February for consumers who are concerned over damage to tooth enamel when using whitening products.  “Consumers said they want whiter teeth, but few actually use a dedicated whitening product,” says Lisa Hoo, associate brand manager, Listerine.

Of course, consumers are still looking for ways to optimize the breath-freshening qualities that their oral-care products offer. Scope Outlast mouthwash and new Crest Extra White Plus Scope Outlast toothpaste will be available in March. “This duo of products is infused with advanced technology that binds tightly with select receptors in the mouth, triggering a minty, fresh sensation that lasts up to five times longer than brushing alone with a regular toothpaste,” says Karis.

Debbie O’Niel, stock clerk at Newfoundland’s Colemans Food Centre has seen whitening mouthwash fly off the shelves in recent months. “Consumers want more from their oral-care products nowadays. If their mouthwash can do more than one thing, like whiten teeth while freshening breath, then that is good for them,” says O’Niel.

For the kids

One of the fastest-growing segments is rinse for kids. Parents are eager to find a way to make oral care more fun and effective for their children, says Kavitha Thomas, associate brand manger, Listerine Kids. “Listerine Agent Cool Blue helps make brushing more fun by tinting plaque blue so kids see where to brush, and Listerine Smart Rinse is a fluoride rinse that prevents cavities and kills bad breath bacteria,” Thomas says.

Manufacturers are also introducing fun innovations within power brushing lines especially for children. Launched in 2009, the G-U-M Crayola Timer Light has been popular with kids, according to Ken Coome, director, retail, SAI Canada. The colourful toothbrush flashes for 60 seconds, increasing brushing compliance and helping children brush for a longer period of time. The line of products includes: Crayola Timer Lights, Power Toothbrush, Marker Toothbrush, Games Toothbrush and Flossers.

Arm & Hammer has introduced a number of themed battery-operated SpinBrushes for boys and girls. The handles are shaped like soccer players, astronauts, mermaids or ice-cream cones. SpinBrush Marvel Heroes for older kids includes themes such as Spiderman, Wolverine, Hulk and the recently launched Iron Man brush.

Power brush

In 2006, Church & Dwight purchased Crest SpinBrush from Procter & Gamble. This past July, the company started transitioning the SKUs to Arm & Hammer SpinBrush. The newest product to launch under the brand is the Arm & Hammer SpinBrush Pro Clean Sonic—a battery-powered toothbrush with sonic technology that the company says is clinically proven to reduce plaque in hard-to-reach areas. “It allows people to get into the power brush franchise of Sonic toothbrushes for under $20,” says Hamel. “It’s not just for the price-conscious, but also for people who want to try it and trade up from a manual brush. Fifty per cent of dollar spend is on manual brushes and the other half is on power brushes, and that is really where the trend is going.”

Arm & Hammer has also launched the SpinBrush Pro Clean Sonic Recharge, a power brush that has timer lights and a pulsing sensation every 30 seconds to indicate when it is time to switch positions. “The idea behind this is to ensure that they are getting the full dentist-recommended two minutes of brushing,” says Hamel.

Trading up to more premium products continues to be a trend in the oral-care category and is the key driver behind growth, according to Karis. “Our data shows that the overall category is growing at a rate of 4% versus a year ago,” she says.

Convenience and health

Western Canada’s largest grocer of natural and organic food, Choices Markets of B.C., attracts consumers to its health-care aisle who are concerned about sweeteners and foaming agents in toothpaste. “Our shoppers are looking for a clean-ingredient toothpaste to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Natural ingredients such as tea tree oil has also become very popular because it offers an antiseptic quality,” says Shelagh Guinane, health-care manager, Choices Markets Yaletown in Vancouver.

The retailer also offers natural bristle toothbrushes, 100% recycled toothbrushes and tongue cleaners that help protect against cold and flu by keeping the tongue clean, according to Guinane. She finds that bundling products, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste sold together, is an easy way to introduce consumers to products they haven’t tried before.

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