The Indian oral care market is under-penetrated, with only a minority of population using mouthwash and whitening gels. Indian companies, with the exception of Dabur, have found it hard to find acceptance by consumers, as global behemoths Colgate-Palmolive-Palmolive and Hindustan Unilever (Pepsodent and Close Up) account for a major share of the market.
Not only is the consumption of mouthwashes and whitening gels low, India lags its competitor China as far as consumption of toothpastes and toothpowders is concerned. The per-capita consumption of oral care products in India is approximately 147 grams, a stark contrast to China’s per capita consumption of 277 grams.
India Oral Care Market worth US$ 1 Billion
The oral care market in India is valued at over US$ 1 Bn, and home-grown brands, such as Dabur, are trying their best to get a pie of this lucrative market. However, not many Indian companies have tasted success in this market, as Colgate-Palmolive, Pepsodent, and Close Up have created a strong value in the psyche of consumers.
The India oral care market is fiercely competitive, with Hindustan UniLever taking the market leader Colgate-Palmolive head on with its comparative advertising. Although the latter has taken the matter to court to stop Hindustan Unilever to air the comparative advertisements, the court hasn’t found much evidence about any brand denigration.
Global oral care brands are making a beeline to tap into the plethora of opportunities available in the Indian oral care market. Stagnant growth in the developed markets of North America and Europe is a key concern for global oral care companies, and India, with its high double-digit growth rate is being seen as the next big emerging market.
Although India accounts for 5% of the global oral care market, the number is considered below par by analysts, considering the fact that India is the second most populous nation in the world. Awareness about oral care products is high in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, however, consumers in rural areas still rely on indigenous products.
Foreign companies are aware of the potential of leveraging on this opportunity, and through well-planned out marketing strategies, they are trying to build awareness about the importance of maintaining oral hygiene. Through free dental check-ups and introductory offers, multinational companies, such as Colgate-Palmolive and HUL are not only building brand awareness, but also fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities (CSR).
Oral Care Companies Spending a Fortune on Celebrity Endorsements
One of the key marketing strategies of oral care brands has been to leverage the enormous popularity of the country’s leading film stars. Colloquially known as “Bollywood”, the Indian film industry is next only to Hollywood. Indian fans idolise their superstars, and oral care brands have been quick to cash in on this frenzy.
The Indian oral care market is dominated by the toothpaste segment, and most of the leading brands are using celebrity endorsements for this product segment. Unlike in the west, the concept of flossing is non-existent, to a large extent in India, owing to which, one cannot find many flossing products available in the market.
What’s the Business Strategy of Companies in India Oral Care Market
The business strategy of most of the leading brands in India focuses on two things — 1. Introducing premium toothpastes and mouthwashes in metropolitan and Tier 1 cities. — 2. Introducing affordable toothpastes in villages and Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
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A key trend currently being seen in the Indian oral care market is that the global leader Colgate-Palmolive is consolidating its position, whereas HUL is losing its market share. Analysts at Future Market Insights, are of the view that HUL’s over-reliance on Pepsodent and Close Up is to blame for its loss of market share. While Colgate-Palmolive has thoroughly researched the market, and launched category-wise products, HUL has failed to do so. Also, the sales of Dabur Red toothpaste have eaten into the share of the company. GlaxoSmithkline and Procter & Gamble are still to witness the kind of success they would have envisioned when they entered the Indian market.
Summing up, the oral care market in India is expected to expand at a double-digit growth rate in the next five years. While Colgate-Palmolive-Palmolive will continue to dominate the Indian market, other companies are anticipated to fight it out to consolidate their position.
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Mr. Sudip Saha