Get em to smile


Most people would agree that a beautiful smile is an asset worth having. However, getting that smile does not always come easily – or cheap.

Furthermore, the connection between oral health and overall health and wellness makes oral care a matter of more than just aesthetics.

"Wellness is an important strategy for many retailers, and oral care has to be an important part of the strategy [because] as we know, good oral health can impact your overall health," explains Paul Cira, managing director, BrushPoint Innovations Inc., King City, Ontario.

Therefore, many retailers are adding products once available only at the dentists office to supplement their selection of toothbrushes, toothpastes and mouthwashes – the classic medicine-cabinet staples, says Tony Clark, vice president, sales for DentaCare Industries, a Morristown, Tenn.-based division of Team Technologies Inc.

"Traditionally, oral care has been dominated by pastes, rinses and brushes, but we are seeing more dental devices [on the retail market] that are more professional in origin. A lot of our products are ones that weve brought from the professional side to retail," he says.

Toothpaste and beyond
Of course, toothpaste is the dominating subcategory in oral care, boasting 41 percent of share, says "Oral Care – US," a May 2013 report from global market research firm Mintel. And the overall subcategorys sales grew 7 percent from 2010 to 2012. Driving the sales are toothpastes that offer multiple benefits – including cavity prevention, enamel protection and whitening.

Look to dental tools and accessories as opportunities for store brand growth.

Offer just the basics under your own brands – consider adding whitening strips and more.

However, the toothpaste subcategory might not be the best area of opportunity on the private label side. Data from Information Resources Inc., Chicago, covering the 52 weeks ending Dec. 1, 2013, show that only 0.4 percent of toothpastes overall dollar sales come from private label products.

So, what subcategories offer retailers a chance to grow private label sales? Clark points to dental tools and accessories.

"We supply dentists and orthodontists," he states. "It offers a nice conduit for us to see what may have retail application from our professional customers. Its a huge profit area. These specialty items offer incremental profit opportunities for retailers."

Clark notes that the subcategory is function-driven, not brand-driven.

"This being said, private label is the perfect solution," he explains.

The key, Clark says, is for retailers to private label the top six dental care accessories and arrange them in a brand-blocking fashion to make it easier for the consumer to shop.

"Im in favor of doing brand-blocking because it creates an image," he adds. "You make a much bolder statement as a retailer with brand blocking."

Another area thats popular on the private label side is whitening products, Clark observes. And their increasing use is leading to more sales of sensitivity products, as whitening products can be abrasive and lead to tooth sensitivity.

"The more whitening [product use] we see, the more we see sensitive toothpaste [sales] jump," he points out.

State product features clearly on packaging.

Promote only one or two products on offshelf displays. Take a family approach and promote the whole line.

Color it boldly
When it comes to packaging store brand oral care products, retailers should develop a distinctive look that works across the entire line of oral care products, Cira advises. And because oral care is a complex segment, product features should be clearly stated on packaging to make it easy for consumers to understand key end benefits.

But dont get too wordy or busy, Clark cautions. Make it easy for the consumer to understand a products functions. And make the package bold, yet simple – with a nice color and shine.

"It needs to look upscale, bright and bold," he states. "Avoid being too generic. Make the product be the kind of thing consumers look at and say to themselves, Thats a quality product. When it looks as good as everything else out there and its less expensive, that attracts the consumer."

Go off-shelf
Turning to merchandising, Clark and Cira concur that off-shelf displays work particularly well in the store brand oral care category.

"Always look for any kind of off-shelf activity – like at the checkout – for impulse sales," he states.

And dont just promote one or two products. Cira recommends that retailers take a family-style approach to off-shelf merchandising of own-brand oral care goods.

"Use end displays of toothbrushes with oral rinses and dental floss. Promote the whole private label oral care line together, not just one item," he points out. "Promote your products together as a brand."

And if a national brand is promoting a certain oral care product, retailers could shadow promote their store brand equivalent item. As an example, Cira points to toothbrushes.

"Increase the basket buy by encouraging [the] purchase of higher-margin toothbrushes," he states, "especially power toothbrushes."