chaz3Even when things look bad for the economy, Brits still like to look and feel their best. That means putting our money where our mouths are – and our hair, too. According to Mintel, the research experts, we’re spending more than ever on oral care: by contrast hair care sales have thinned somewhat but certainly aren’t sheared.

Oral hygiene products reached £760m in 2008, 23% up on 2003. Toothpastes and toothbrushes make up the majority of sales (70%). 77% of adults brush their teeth at least twice a day, for many the sum total of their oral hygiene programme. 47% of us use mouthwash: sales rose 77% between 2003- 2008 to £158m. Mintel estimate an extra 6.3m people used mouthwash in 2008 than 2003.

These days, most people are aware of the need for good oral hygiene habits if they are to avoid dental problems. Dentists and hygienists are a source of information on gum disease prevention and acid erosion, but stubborn consumers – men in particular – may not always take the hint and purchase afterwards!

The high cost of dentistry, combined with difficulty in obtaining an NHS dentist, reinforces the value of good dental habits. On average Mintel say people are changing their brushes as often as the dentist-recommended four times per year, while entry-level power toothbrushes are taking share from manual brushes.

Despite high profile TV advertising, the UK’s £685m market for shampoos and conditioners is witnessing a downward trend, with value sales set to average year-on-year growth of under 1% between 2009- 2014.

Increasing penetration of conditioners is key to driving value sales of the total market to an estimated £731m by 2014 although stripping out inflation, this is set to fall to £681m at constant prices.

In response to the recession, a quarter of female shampoo users say they have spent less on shampoo. This is expected to wash £6m off the value of the UK’s shampoo sector and £8 million off conditioners between 2008-2009. Looking ahead the ageing population could bring about a decline in volume sales, although added-value product innovation addressing age-related concerns for older female consumers could help drive sales.

Teenagers and young adults are more lax in looking after their teeth than older people. Over-35s are more likely to have fillings and other dental work and appreciate the need to use a wider range of oral hygiene products. Women take greater care than men over their oral hygiene routine, just as they do over personal care generally.

The Grocery Trader

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