Study: Many consumers turn to at-home options for whiter teeth versus the dentist chair

CHICAGO — There’s good news for retailers and manufacturers of at-home teeth whitening solutions, as new research indicates that most consumers seeking a brighter smile will tend to opt for at-home options compared with professional whitening services.

According to new research from Mintel, only 10% of those looking for whiter teeth took a seat in the dentist chair for a professional whitening service.

Slightly more than 4-out-of-10 respondents (41%) have tried to whiten their teeth in the last 12 months using toothpaste, while 17% have given it a whirl with at-home mouthwash and 15% with at-home whitening strips.

“Some of the key growth drivers in the oral care market include an increased interest in whitening capabilities and products that deliver multiple benefits,” stated Gabriela Mendieta, home and personal care analyst at Mintel. “Also, many consumers are becoming more aware of how oral care affects their general health, and marketers can use this opportunity to push products that not only help with teeth and gums, but also one's overall well-being.”

The majority of people (73%) are looking for toothpaste that prevents cavities, while some 70% of Americans look for toothpaste that boasts tartar control. A product that promises whiter teeth is the third most popular attribute with 66% of people, followed by 56% who are looking for a product to strengthen their enamel.

“The list goes on and on. … Whether it's gum disease, tooth sensitivity or dry mouth, there is a toothpaste or mouthwash product out there for you,” Mendieta said. “Oral care products that feature multiple attributes are expected to do well with consumers in the coming years, as it is more cost-effective to buy one product that helps with several needs.”

The relation between oral health and general health may be a selling point for marketers to drive sales and encourage users to widen their oral care repertoires and regimens. In fact, the floss/accessories/tools segment increased by more than 2.8% in sales from 2010 to 2011, more than any other oral care segment, according to Mintel. The research suggests that this could grow further if marketers create ads that highlight the link between oral bacteria and the potential for risk in other areas of the body.

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