Oral Care: Ready for Disruption

Contact Author Steve Pringle, Ph.D.
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From a distance it looks like not much has changed in oral care, but closer examination reveals a different story.

Guess what? The world around us has changed dramatically over the last 12-plus months—or has it? In a lot of personal care categories we have seen a shift in consumer priorities. For some categories, and in some regions, cost has become a higher priority with the consumer. However, in others there is greater focus on added functionality, driven by a greater need for personal at-home care.

Then we look at the world of oral care, where product functionality has been at the core of the value proposition to consumers for some time. From a distance it looks like not much has changed in the category, but closer examination reveals a different story.

Oral Care’s Limited Flavor Palette

One of the difficulties in product differentiation in oral care comes from the delivery of flavor. In most other personal care categories consumers can and want to experience a wide range of flavors or fragrances. However, when we look at flavor and fragrance being delivered by oral care products, we see that mint continues to be king.

According to data from Mintel GNPD (F-1), in the five years ending October 1, 2020, there were more than 15,000 new toothpaste products launched globally, with more than 87% having mint as their core flavor profile. It would seem from the number of launches that the space encourages innovation, but perhaps just not when we’re considering flavor?

F-1. Oral care flavors types, by region (2015-2020); source: Mintel GNPD

For the full article, please check out the Perfumer & Flavorist+ May 2021 issue.