There is growing evidence that more consumers are attempting to replace a dental office visit with oral care products sold on store shelves. Specifically, these include high-end whitening kits that tout “professional strength” and toothpastes that claim to replicate a visit to the dentist.
Timothy Dowd, senior analyst for Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md., calls this trend “Home Pro Oral Care.”
“It encompasses a particular group of products,” he said. “How far this trend will go and whether the assortment of Home Pro Oral Care products will expand greatly, I am not sure. I think it will depend on the economy.”
And if these troubling economic times continue, will people be willing to pay for a $40 teeth-whitening kit?
“When compared to a whitening procedure at the dentist that costs $300, it's definitely a money-saving option,” said Dowd. Even during times when money is tight, he said, people still want to look attractive and be able to compete effectively with other job seekers.
“That may help dedicated whitener kits,” he said. “A greater number of consumers trying to postpone the dentist and products like Crest Weekly Clean — which I think is a brilliant introduction — can fill that need.”
Tom Vierhile, director of product launch analytics, Datamonitor, Naples, N.Y., also cited Procter & Gamble for its Crest Weekly Clean with an ingredient similar to what dentists use, as well as Crest Pro Effects white strips, which can provide a quality whitening procedure in 10 days.
“That seems to be the direction they [manufacturers] are taking — the professional angle — where they try to pick up business that is headed toward the dentist's office,” he added. “Maybe they can emphasize that this is a cost-saver down the road and that their product will save a person from more dental bills. This may be a positioning statement that a company such as P&G can make.”
David Biernbaum, a consumer packaged goods business development consultant in St. Louis, noted oral care consumers are not necessarily looking for the cheapest brands, but rather the less expensive solutions. “An upside toothbrush or a premium mouth rinse is perhaps the one thing that a consumer will spend for when he or she is looking for a new job and conducting interviews,” he said.
He warns retailers not to react to the current economic crisis by indiscriminately slashing all higher-end-priced items from the planogram.
“Retailers that do that may be slashing their own profits.”