The importance of dental care continues to rise with social media selfies and the rising cost of dentistry work. By stocking a strong range of dental products, retailers can grow their basket spend. Toby Hill investigates

For many convenience retailers, dental care products represent the essence of distress purchasing. At Julie Atkinson’s Hollins Green Community Shop in Greater Manchester, for example, the dental care range consists of just two products: a Wisdom toothbrush and a tube of Colgate toothpaste, both price-marked at £1. “We’ve got a bed and breakfast across the road, and guests might run in if they’ve forgotten their toothbrush or toothpaste,” she says.

But trends towards healthier living are reshaping shopping habits across the convenience sector, and concern with oral health is no different. 

“Eighty per cent of women are more concerned about tooth loss and oral health than weight gain, while 16-to-34-year-olds are more likely to be concerned with oral health when compared to other age groups,” notes Dan Newell, marketing director at Mars Wrigley Confectionery. 

With National Smile Month running from 13 May to 13 June, retailers have an opportunity to focus on the category and see how a few changes could help drive sales. Here, retailers and suppliers reveal their strategies for making the most of dental essentials. 

Toothbrushes and toothpaste

Anita-Nye.png
Anita Nye
Premier Eldred Drive
Stores, Orpington, Kent

We sell six types of toothpaste and a few toothbrush brands – mainly Colgate and Wisdom. In my experience, most people go for whatever’s cheapest. But I find it’s also worth stocking some speciality products, because some people will appreciate being able to get it when they’re in a jam. I have Sensodyne products, for example, for people with sensitive teeth. On the other hand, I used to stock children’s toothpaste, but it just didn’t sell. People are generally looking for the cheapest option, so we try and stock price-marked packs where we can.

Chris-Herring.png
Chris Herring
Londis Shiphay Post Office,
Torquay, Devon

For essential self-care items such as toothpaste, people want simple, affordable prices from a convenience store. If they’re looking for a quality, expensive product, they’ll go somewhere more specialist like Boots. Colgate toothpaste price-marked at £1 is easily our bestselling toothpaste. People aren’t interested in paying £2 or £2.50. The best I can do is to shop around for the lowest price and try to squeeze some extra profit margin out of toothpaste.

Jo-Cooper.png
Jo Cooper
Sales director, grocery
and convenience, GSK

 

The key for convenience retailers to maximise sales in the oral care category is to provide trusted, well-known brands that offer great value for busy shoppers. To help with this, we’re launching Aquafresh Triple Protection 125ml toothpaste in a price-marked £1 pack – expanding on the value 125ml range which includes Aquafresh Active White.

mouthwash.png

Mouthwash

Chris-Herring.png
Chris Herring
Londis Shiphay Post Office,
Torquay, Devon

We do two brands of mouthwash: Colgate price-marked at £1.49, and Listerine, which is much more expensive. I used to only do Colgate, and to be honest it still sells far better – the Listerine barely moves. But it’s worth having the Listerine there because it boosts sales of Colgate – having an expensive product next to a cheaper alternative sharpens customers’ awareness of the cost saving they’re making on the cheaper item. It works: our sales of Colgate have gone up a lot since we introduced Listerine.

Merchandising

Anita-Nye.png
Anita Nye
Premier Eldred Drive
Stores, Orpington, Kent

We stock dental care products with our other toiletries somewhere we can keep an eye on them, as they’re a product that’s frequently shoplifted. We try and promote healthy eating with the children – we give them free fruit three times a week, and promote healthy snacking to get them away from the sugary stuff. It’s all part of the added value you can provide as a local store, and we could give dental care products a bigger role in that. Still, the older children from the secondary school next to us tend to buy fizzy drinks and sweets, so it’s an uphill struggle.

Chris-Herring.png
Chris Herring
Londis Shiphay Post Office,
Torquay, Devon

I used to put toothpaste on my bay of £1 products and for a while it worked there, until people got bored of it. But that can be effective, as people like the £1 price point. Another idea is to dual site dental care items with the medical section. That way, when people go to pick up paracetamol – a common purchase – they’ll also see Colgate. It’s best if it’s price-marked at £1, as that encourages impulse purchases. It’s worth dual siting toothpaste as it’s exactly the kind of product people might not think of buying from their local store, but could be nudged into doing so if they see it when they’re running low.

Supplier viewpoint: Driving on-the-go sales

Dan-Newall.png
Dan Newell
Marketing director, Mars Wrigley Confectionery

Chewing sugar-free gum after eating or drinking can help remove lingering food and keep teeth clean and healthy. As consumers increasingly look for a convenient addition to their oral care routine, it’s important for retailers to understand that gum is a healthy option to stock at the till. Gum isn’t just good for your teeth, it’s good for impulse sales, too.

Being aware of a few key trends can help retailers catch this opportunity. Bottle formats are having increasing success, with the trend towards snacking at work and eating and drinking on the road being key to their performance. Alternatively, Mars Wrigley’s Extra Minis handyboxes have seen strong sales since their launch in June last year. The range is now joined by Starburst, a fruit-flavoured sugar-free gum perfect for appealing to children.