Programmes instigated by health authorities across Europe to improve oral care appear to have had a positive impact on the result, according to the latest market report from Kline & Company, Global Cosmetics & Toiletries 2006. The study shows that the value of the European oral care segment in 2006 was €6.2bn, of which 60 per cent is accounted for by toothpaste, 27 per cent by toothbrushes and 13 per cent by mouthwash. The report outlines that a lot of this growth is being driven by some of the less developed countries in Europe, particularly those in Central and Eastern Europe, where campaigns to promote better health care have had the biggest impact. Although Russia had the leading market growth rate in 2006, exceeding 21 per cent, it is also quite surprising to see that Spain too led the way, with a growth rate of 11.6 per cent. "Across Europe, government-sponsored programmes are working to educate children on the concept of good oral habits today that can help prevent problems in the future, and this shift in attitude is driving up product sales," said Deidre McNulty, project manager for Kline Europe. But in addition to the government programmes, initiatives from the main oral care players - including Colgate-Palmolive, GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever - to convey the importance of good oral hygiene to children are also helping to spread the message. Likewise such initiatives are also helping to raise brand awareness, as oral care manufacturers believe in the importance of cultivating notions over their brands from the youngest possible age. These factors mean that the oral care product category is growing at one of the fastest rates in the European personal care market, second only to the skin care category. Likewise, the market growth also puts it well ahead of other leading global markets, with growth in oral care for both the Japanese and the US markets currently coming in at around 3 per cent. This figure reflects the long-standing stagnant nature of the oral care market in more developed countries, where growth has been driven by innovative products such as tooth whitening products and oral care, natural-based toothpastes and gum stimulators. However, in Europe, there appears to be still more potential for further growth, driven by both continuing demand for more innovative products and further growth in less developed countries. All of this means that Kline & Company projects European oral care growth will continue to surge ahead at as much as 4.5 per cent per annum up to the year 2011, figures that should ensure the category will exceed estimations for the rest of the European personal care market.