Legacy oral care brands hold their own amid market disruptors


Oral care is just the latest of many categories where disruptor brands have taken a bite out of consumer packaged goods leaders’ market share.

But unlike others, such as cosmetics or skin care, the behemoths have done an admirable job of brushing up on innovations of their own. Or have purchased the brands that are shaking up categories, as in the case of Colgate’s ownership of Tom’s of Maine.

The prognosis? A win for customers, booming sales for fledgling and heritage brands and a constant planogram shuffle.

Niche brands are most prevalent in toothpastes, the largest of the oral care categories. For the 52-week period ended July 9, toothpaste sales across multi-outlets rose 2.3% to $3.1 billion, according to IRI. What’s telling is the expansion of private labels, natural brands, multi-tasking formulas and those products addressing particular issues, such as relief for sensitive teeth.

In a sea of sameness on the shelf, products offering something additional are vying for consumers’ purse strings. There’s even toothpaste that encourages sleep, called Supersmile Professional Teeth Whitening. It features such calming ingredients as jasmine and green tea.

Naturally clean

Ingredient stories are key in pastes, and “natural” is at the top of the list. According to data from Mintel, the importance of natural ingredients to oral care customers has more than doubled since 2014, and the natural segment is moving at a faster rate across oral care categories.

The desire for natural pastes continues to grow, and Tom’s of Maine now produces sales of almost $40 million in the chain stores tracked by IRI. The brand, which was an early pioneer in natural, posted almost 15% gains for the 52 weeks ended July 9 — larger than power brands from Procter & Gamble and Colgate.

The “better-for-you” oral care path also has driven many consumers, especially millennials, to hello products. Citing Mintel research, hello noted that millennials are two times more likely than other age cohorts to look for oral care products with natural ingredients. But the quest for natural stretches beyond that, with 87% of parents somewhat or very interested in natural products for their children, and 66% of parents rating organic ingredients as extremely or very important when considered toothpastes for their kids.

“Hello has had its most successful year to date, and brand awareness continues to grow across food, drug and mass channels in the United States,” said Craig Dubitsky, founder of hello products. “Several factors contributed to hello’s growth, including our ‘An Inconvenient Tooth,’ awareness and trial campaign, which focused on asking consumers if they know what’s in their toothpaste, and [urging] them to try an alternative.”

The campaign helped increase awareness, included a sampling component with a sharing feature and drove significant sales and velocity increases, the company said. The company added that this year’s launch of its sodium lauryl sulfate-free hello Sensitivity Relief toothpaste, with such “in-demand” ingredients as coconut oil, aloe vera and effective potassium nitrate, delivered the benefits today’s modern consumer is seeking.

“With distinctive, millennial pink rose gold packaging, our new paste is meeting the needs of shoppers,” Dubitsky said, noting many consumers have damaged teeth due to whitening practices that have proven unfriendly to enamel. “Hello has also focused on growing our incredible fluoride free and SLS-free pastes, including our hello fluoride-free whitening natural sweet mint toothpaste, and hello kids’ fluoride-free natural watermelon toothpastes, both of which are delighting millennials and millennial families,” he said.

Tot-friendly toothpaste

To offer a way for new parents to introduce healthy oral care, hello recently launched its Organic Apple Flouride Free Toddler Training Toothpaste. The clear gel is formulated with xylitol, erythritol, soothing aloe vera and other “friendly” ingredients to keep little teeth and delicate gums clean and strong. Created for children ages three months to 2 years, the formula is safe if swallowed, fluoride-free, vegan and free of sugar, SLS/sulfates, artificial sweeteners/flavors, preservatives, microbeads, triclosan and gluten.

“Healthy brushing habits start early, so we set out with a mission to create a delicious-tasting, safe and naturally friendly flavor we knew kids would enjoy so much they would rush to brush,” Dubitsky said.

Retailers acknowledge kids oral health as an important sub-segment. In fact, Bartell Drugs partnered with the University of Washington’s Center for Pediatric Dentistry to provide dental care checkups to 115 children in need.

ACT Kids Toothpaste now has children’s pastes in its portfolio, with a goal of motivating kids to brush, according to the company. ACT shared research from a recent Toluna survey in which 56% of moms said they have a hard time getting kids to brush.

A niche brand zeroing in on the younger set is Vitaminpaste Kids Toothpaste. Vitaminpaste already earned presentation in major food and drug chains. Developed by Dr. Bruce Golden, a dentist with more than 30 years of experience, the product was clinically proven at the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine to deliver at least 50% of daily vitamins D, E, B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6 by brushing teeth as directed. It is fluoride-free and safe to swallow. The formula whitens, freshens breath and contains xylitol and calcium — but not SLS.

Golden’s goal was to provide an answer to patients’ perennial question of “what the best toothpaste for their kids? According to Golden, the kids toothpaste category has focused on artificial coloring, flavors, sparkles and cartoon-character packaging, which has nothing to do with oral hygiene or any other added benefits, except to condition kids and parents to use these factors as the basis for deciding which toothpaste to purchase.

Such adult concerns as whitening, sensitivity, peroxide, baking soda and periodontal disease are not major concerns for kids. But with Vitaminpaste Kids, he said children ages 4 years and older can now multi-task.

“By brushing as directed, kids can keep their teeth clean and get at least 50% of listed daily vitamins,” he said.

Oral first aid

Shopper demand for fluoride-free products is giving CloSYS a shot in the arm and shelf space in major retailers. According to James Ratcliff, president and CEO of CloSYS’ parent company, Rowpar Pharmaceuticals, dentists and hygienists are giving CloSYS a nod, sending shoppers down drug store aisles. He added that CloSYS does not contain the foaming agent SLS, which is known to irritate oral tissues and is a common cause of oral canker sores. Also, CloSYS is naturally activated by saliva and is able to penetrate mature oral biofilms and kill oral pathogens. As an added boost, CloSYS breeds multiple sales as a large percentage of its Oral Rinse consumers also buy the paste.

The brand is gaining exposure beyond oral care professionals in in-flight magazines, Sirius XM advertising (driving customers to participating stores), digital marketing and its current campaign, featuring the tag line “First Aid for Your Mouth,” focused on oral sores.


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Philips Norelco debuts new shavers to mark ‘Star Wars’ release

BY David Salazar

STAMFORD, Conn. — To mark the coming release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Philips Norelco is bringing three new shavers to market, all of which are inspired by the film series, for a limited time. The four shavers bring together the company’s technology with new design features that are meant to emulate different “Star Wars” characters.

"Philips is excited to work with the iconic Star Wars brand to lend new design inspiration to our line of innovative shavers," Philips Personal Care North America senior marketing director Sasha Markovic said. "In developing this new line, we combined our advanced shaving technology, including V-Track Pro to trim even longer stubble with superior closeness and comfort, with the imagination of Star Wars.  Now, you can unleash the force in shaving and be your best you."

The four shavers include the SW9700, which has a suggested retail price of $259.99 and features V-Track Pro technology to provide a close shave, as well as a dark side theme with a red-to-black gradient, hexagonal pattern and First Order logo power button. The SW6700 uses the Philips Norelco Reflex Action system and its design mimics the X-wing fighter, including a scratched metal finish, red stripes and red X-wing symbol that flickers during use. It has a suggested price of $129.99.

The line also includes the R2-D-inspired SW3700, which includes self-sharpening ComfortCut blades and has a suggested retail price of $49.99. Additionally, the SW170 is built for shaving and grooming, with a design inspired by Storm Trooper armor and a suggested retail price of $49.99.

The shavers will be available in Walmart, Target and Best Buy stores, as well as on


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CNBC’s retail ‘fixer’ Marcus Lemonis headlines Emerson Group 10th Annual Industry Day

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA  — The Emerson Group will soon be hosting its 10th Annual Retail Industry Day with an all-star lineup featuring the kind of thought leadership pioneers who will help galvanize attendees into thinking differently about how they approach their respective businesses.

That’s the kind of reputation The Emerson Group has cultivated in the past decade with this event, as successful marketing and merchandising strategies continue to shift from the typical block and tackle mindsets of old to the embracing of initiatives that employ strategic disruption across the consumer purchase path, from search to shelf.

Headlining the day’s events is Marcus Lemonis, who breathes new life into dying businesses in his hit show “The Profit” on CNBC by focusing on the “3P” principle: “People/Process/Product.”

Lemonis drives results through collaborations, partnerships and relationships and advises aspiring entrepreneurs to stay focused, work hard, know their numbers and be disciplined.

“Entrepreneurs who have authored a product or a process that isn’t working today have to make the bold step of re-inventing themselves,” Lemonis recently shared. “Every single company in this country today, if they’re not evolving, they’re dying. And I don’t know why an entrepreneur would think that they would be exempt from that process. I’m not interested in their ego; I’m not interested in their pride; I’m not interested in their feelings. I’m interested in their business being successful. ”

Lemonis will be returning to prime time in November when CNBC’s popular hit series “The Profit” returns for a fifth season with 10 all-new episodes.

Also on the scorecard is Musab Balbale, VP and general manager for Walmart ecommerce, who will discuss capturing and keeping consumer attention in an omnichannel marketplace. Balbale has more than 15 years of experience in consumer and retail. Prior to Walmart and, he was VP of International and Business Development at the Vitamin Shoppe, where he was responsible for merchandising and operations. Balbale began his career in strategy and investing roles at The Boston Consulting Group, Charles Schwab and Summit Partners and has his Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Colleen DeCourcy, chief creative officer for Wieden+Kennedy, joins the Emerson Group from “the world's most creatively-awarded agency,” according to AdvertisingAge, to discuss how to catch lightning in a bottle, something her agency successfully accomplishes quite often. “It’s a good time, this particular, challenging period in our industry, and in our world, to remind ourselves of the power of raw creativity, and what it takes for creative companies to conjure and harness it,” she shared during a presentation earlier this year at a D&AD conference. “Best-in-class, relationship-driven, integrated, digital-innovation-operations-technology-process companies can’t do that. Companies devoted to creativity can. Agitation, meaning, the unexpected — these are the things that can truly ignite a culture.”

Also presenting is Evan Neufeld, VP intelligence at L2 Inc., a subscription-based business intelligence service that benchmarks the digital competence of brands. L2 helps identify the must-have omnichannel features retailers need to meet the expectations of their consumers, and provides insights into the best-practices of brands using disruptive technology.

Finally, Carol Cruickshank, partner at ATKearney’s Health Practice, will be on hand to discuss a research initiative that examines the future state of retail and consumers and the key drivers of change on the horizon for brands and retailers. For example, looking ahead, 2026 will yield the first time six generations of consumers actively participate in the market, from an estimated 14 million from the “silent generation” to the 43 million in the “alpha generation,” or the generation that comes after “gen z.” By the time anyone in the alpha generation is making their first purchase decision, marketing will have evolved from a one-size-fits-all approach to a personalized approach.



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