Colgate, HUL Brush Up Oral Care Biz to Keep P&G at Bay
P&G set to take Crest toothpaste national even as Colgate & HUL push their products
Procter & Gamble (P&G) maybe an insignificant player in the Indian oral care market yet, but industry heavyweights Colgate and Hindustan Unilever (HUL) seem to be keeping a close eye on their global rival. Almost a month ago, Colgate India invited few trade partners in Mumbai to unveil what its chief executive Prabha Parameswaran described as a technological breakthrough. She was referring to Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection, a mid-premium brand from the firm’s global portfolio. Around the same time, its rival and country's second largest oral care company Hindustan Unilever was readying a new whitening toothpaste under Close-Up brand. This was at a time when P&G was planning to extend its value-added Crest toothpaste nationally, a year after it entered the .` 7,000-crore oral care segment under its Oral-B brand. While Colgate didn't comment, HUL, which has seen its market share in the toothpaste segment con- sistently eroding, said the new innovation could add some gloss in its portfolio.“We believe Close-Up Diamond Attraction will be a game changer in the category as it transcends from oral care into the beauty space, and leverages on the growing trend of consumption in the beauty segment in India,” said Atul Sinha, category head, oral care, at HUL. Colgate is by far the market leader with 54.3% share and has been gaining share over the last few quarters while HUL trails with 23.7%. Dabur has 11% market share and its Dabur Red toothpaste is the fastest growing brand in the market with 17% annual growth rate. The brand crossed .` 200-crore mark last year. In comparison, P&G’s perform- ance in the category has remained muted, partly because its products are available only in select markets. “With 12 SKUs (stock keeping units), P&G has garnered 1.2% market share in modern trade versus Colgate Visible White’s 4.5% market share with only two SKUs,” said Abneesh Roy, associate director at Edelweiss Securities. “In our view, P&G’s India (toothpaste) launch has been very low key as compared to its other global launches,” he said.
A P&G spokesperson, however, said, “The performance of Oral-B toothpaste in our chosen launch markets is both meeting and exceeding expectations.” Anyway, P&G seems to have attracted larger rivals’ attention in India.
One reason for top players turning attention to niche segments, according to experts, is that value-added products will now become more of a norm than exception. One recent example of that is the success of GlaxoSmithKline’s Sensodyne toothpaste for sensitive teeth. “Consumers wants specific value-added benefit and category development leads to products developed for specific functional benefits from generic one. In the last two years, growth of category has been led by the value-added whitening for face value and sensitivity products,” said Devendra Chawla, CEO at Future Group's Food Bazaar.
Oral Care Market