The oral care market wide open in China

Overview of oral care market growth in China

Oral care market is still in its development stage in China, however, It continued to see strong growth in 2019 and revenues in the oral care market amount to US$8,196.8m in 2020 due to:

  • The continuously growing population
  • The increase in levels of household income
  • Consumer awareness about new and advanced products.
  • Consumer awareness of oral hygiene routines continued to expand beyond the need for a basic brushing routine

According to Statista, the oral care market is expected to grow annually by 7.6% (CAGR 2020-2023).

Covid-19 impact on oral care market growth in China

Electric toothbrushes were the most requested products in the oral ingestion market in China in 2019. The competitive landscape has been very active and has seen many international and local brands create new marketing strategies to cut a space in the big Chinese oral care market.

However, according to Euromonitor International, sales of oral hygiene products, according to studies done last year, were expected to increase by about 7% in 2020, but due to Covid-19, there was an increase of only 4% in 2020.

Daily needs like toothpaste will not be seriously affected by Covisd-19, but electric toothbrushes will see a significantly greater slowdown than the previous year, with consumers likely to limit non-essential expenses and likely to settle for manual toothbrushes until overcoming the economic crisis.

What are the most requested and sold oral care products in China?

China oral care products are segmented into:

  • breath deodorants
  • dental floss
  • care of the prosthesis
  • mouthwashes and rinses
  • toothbrushes and spare parts
  • toothpaste

Anyway, oral care is no longer limited to teeth brushing, leading to an increasing focus on the appearance of teeth and not just hygiene.

Multinational vs local brands competition: Who will win?

The Chinese oral hygiene market is characterized by a strong presence of multinational companies such as P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, and Hawley & Hazel.

The multinational brands Colgate and Crest have long had a strong presence in oral hygiene in China. However, their share has decreased following greater awareness and knowledge of products by Chinese consumers, product innovations, and marketing efforts of the main local brands such as Lion corporation.

The new trends of the oral hygiene market in China has led the brands of these companies to invest in specific products for the demand of the local market. The growing digitalization of the Chinese market has led, for example, the company Procter & Gamble, to sponsor its products on social platforms such as Wechat, and to sell the products on Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Tmall.

Furthermore, as electric toothbrushes gradually reduce the share of manual toothbrushes, this represents an additional challenge for these brands.

The main players remain the following:

  • Procter & Gamble (Oral-B, Crest)
  • Colgate-Palmolive Company (Colgate)
  • GSK (Sensodyne)
  • Lion Corporation
  • Hawley & Hazel (Darlie)

Three oral care market trends in 2020:

Growing demand for natural products for both personal and oral care

China is one of the largest consumer markets for natural personal and oral care products and has expanded rapidly in recent years.

China is expected to remain a dynamic market for personal and oral natural care. In fact, Chinese consumers show a keen interest in the authenticity and safety of the products and this has fueled the growth of natural products in the country.

That’s why many international brands, which impose strict quality control regulations and who have a profound knowledge of products, have become increasingly popular in China.

Toothpaste continues to strongly guide the oral care market in China

The toothpaste segment holds an important market share in China, which in turn contributes to an important share of revenue in the oral hygiene market. A large part of the Chinese population suffers from oral problems, leading to a shift in the choice of toothpaste among consumers, from economic options to high and medium level ones.

It is no coincidence, for example, despite Oral B oral care products are very expensive, it is one of the best-selling brands in China in the oral care market. Do you think that the prices of the products of this brand are about 8 times more expensive than its competing brands?

Children’s oral care is booming in China

In China, due to the growing number of children, the advanced living standard and the educational level of the Chinese population, parents are more conscientious about children’s health and are willing to invest more to provide their children with high quality products. Therefore, various markets related to children are flourishing, including the oral care market.

Although the children oral care market share is still small, the growth of the children’s toothpaste products is rapid. Indeed, the CAGR of the oral hygiene market for children in recent years has been taking a leading position in the overall growth of oral hygiene, for example electronic toothbrushes for children have an annual growth of over 64%.

In the image below you can see how brands are launching products specific for children and how they are using cartoons like those of Marvel to attract the attention of younger consumers through their marketing campaigns.

Parents prefer multinational brands for children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste. Since many consumptions occur on online eCommerce platforms where parents can buy foreign products, companies must consider these Chinese channels as the ideal places for the distribution of advertisements and the launch of certain brands and products.

How can brands in the oral care sector reach Chinese consumers and increase sales?

As we said before, a presence in the Chinese online world is essential to selling your products in the Chinese market, due to the daily use of mobile phones and, in general, digital platforms.

Baidu is step number one for Chinese consumers

Baidu, the Chinese search engine, is the first choice for an advertising campaign to reach Chinese consumers. In fact, Chinese consumers that want to buy products, go on Baidu to find brands and product information.

Since Baidu knows only Mandarin and gives priority to websites hosted in China, to be visible on Baidu a brand in the oral care sector should create:

  • Chinese website
  • Hosted in China
  • get ICP license

For example, as you can see here, Oral b has a Baidu account and created a Chinese website.

Social networks to look for information and suggestions about oral-care products

Chinese people spend a lot of time on social networks to:

  • obtain information about products and brands
  • obtain suggestions from other people,
  • learn how to use a product
  • discuss their opinions and experience

Therefore, social media and discussion forums, like Zhihu, Weibo, Xiaohongshu, and Wechat are increasingly important for them and also for companies that want to increase brand awareness among Chinese consumers.

For example, Colgate is using Wechat as a channel to teach how to use its products and what are the benefits of using them.

KOLs are the most trusted people for recommendations

KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) play an important role for brands on social media. In fact, since users mainly search for recommendations of specific oral care products on these platforms, KOLs can help brands as they are more reliable than advertising for consumers.

Comments and recommendations on social media are essential for foreign brands that want to increase their presence in the Chinese market.

Thanks to them, people can also learn how to use products they already tried.

E-commerce and cross border e-commerce channels to sell oral care products

E-commercial platforms have become the main purchase media for Chinese consumers, in particular for oral care products, as they are looking for foreign products.

On e-commerce platforms like JD and Tmall, popular toothbrush and toothpaste products receive mainly good comments, which means good sales for brands. JD, Tmall, and Suning are the best e-commerce platforms to sell your oral care products.

In addition, cross border eCommerce platforms are the best way to sell your oral care products in the Chinese market, without having a physical presence in China.

The most suitable cross border e-commerce platforms for oral care products are Tmall Global, JD Worldwide, and Kaola.

gma agency

Do you want to know more about How to use Chinese channels to boost sales? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in the Chinese digital market.

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