The US natural and organic oral care market is already by far the most developed and sophisticated in the world, and it seems that consumer interest in the segment is continuing to grow at a breakneck pace.
The US market was valued at $160m in 2008, and according to market researchers Organic Monitor, it is predicted to grow annually at 20 – 25 percent in the next few years.
This growth is largely attributable to increasing distribution in mass market outlets, combined with the ever-increasing consumer interest in natural- and organic-based personal care products.
Tom's of Maine leads the way
Likewise, Organic Monitor says that the acquisition of Tom’s of Maine by Colgate-Palmolive back in May 2006 has also helped to bring natural oral care into the mainstream arena, as its products have tapped into existing Colgate distribution channels.
Tom’s of Maine currently commands over half of the natural oral care market in the US, while rival Jason is the second largest brand.
Tom’s of Maine has led the way with children’s fluoride-free toothpaste, natural whitening products, as well as natural plant and fruit flavored toothpastes that include acacia, chamomile, cinnamon, lavender, lemongrass and witch hazel ingredietns.
Europe dominated by Weleda
In Europe, where the market is currently valued at €90m (€127m), the biggest natural oral care brand in Europe is Swiss player Weleda, which is currently market leader in just about country.
Although the European market is not as developed as the US, the trends that have influenced the development of the natural oral care market have been very similar.
Clearly one of those key trends is the increasing use of fruit and plant extracts as ingredients. Organic Monitor says that mint, aloe vera and tea tree are becoming increasingly popular, whereas some unusual ingredients such as pine nut oil and pineapple extract are also starting to pop up.
Colgate-Palmolive and GSK battle it out
During the current economic crisis, leading global oral care providers, including Colgate-Palmolive and GSK have been returning solid sales figures because the oral care is particularly well insulated from economic fluctuations.
In 2008 Colgate-Palmolive bucked otherwise gloomy results in the personal care sector, announcing that sales grew by 11 per cent to $15.32bn, backed by an increase in net profits of 13 per cent to $1.95bn – a result that was mainly driven by the company’s oral care division.
Although Colgate-Palmolive remains the undisputed market leader in the oral care category, in recent years GSK has been successful at growing its oral care revenues at a faster pace than its competitor, and a move into the natural oral care market would seem a natural next step.