Tooth whiteners seek to bolster sales luster

Consumers’ increased interest in appearance, as reflected in the rise in cosmetic surgery and cosmetic dentistry, continues to drive sales of whitening products; however, the whitening segment has lost some of its luster in recent years and manufacturers are searching for ways to bring back the shine.

“Tooth whiteners continued their rapid decline from the highs reached in 2003, falling by 8 percent in 2006,” stated research firm Euromonitor International in its recent U.S. oral hygiene report. “The recent poor subsector performance can be attributed to the relative tediousness of applying traditional tooth whiteners and the proliferation of whitening treatments through other oral care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash.”

Going forward, Euromonitor estimates that sales of tooth whiteners will reach $359.1 million, up about3.8 percent from $345.9 million in 2006. It estimates that sales of toothpastes will rise 6 percent during that time to $2.15 billion, while sales of mouthwashes/rinses will climb 8.5 percent to $931.8 million.

Looking to help simplify the process of using whitening strips, several manufacturers are tweaking their current offerings or launching innovative products in hopes of bolstering sales.

One of the most recent is Johnson & Johnson, which added the Listerine brand to its portfolio when it acquired the Pfizer Consumer Healthcare business at the end of 2006 for $16.6 billion in cash.

Aiming to appeal to those beauty shoppers who find current whitening strips on the market inconvenient, the company has developed Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips. There is nothing to remove from the teeth as the strips dissolve in about five to 10 minutes. According to the company, the ingredients are safe to swallow as they are common in other consumable products.

The move comes on heels of Procter & Gamble’s launch in March of its new Crest Whitestrips Daily Multicare, which is a daily product that is applied to the teeth for five minutes. However, this product does not dissolve. It too is geared toward those consumers who want a whitening product but don’t want to spend as much time applying the product to their teeth.

Meanwhile, at NACDS Marketplace earlier this year Dentovations was promoting its Luster Tooth Whitening Light System, which promises to whiten teeth up to six shades in 60 minutes. According to the company, it uses the same light technology used by dentists.

However, industry sources agree that, while interest grows in whitening, it is diversifying from pure-play whitening kits to whitening as an ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash.

Continued innovation will be key if manufacturers are to further brighten sales of pure-play whitening products.

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