Battle of toothpaste brands in Nigerian market

By Ibidunni Banjoko

The Nigerian oral care/ oral hygiene market has always been a battleground for various brands of toothpaste. With one out of every four Africans being a Nigerian, going by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, the country has become a magnet for various brands of toothpaste.

According to Grand View Research, an India & U.S. based market research and consulting company, the global oral care market size was valued at USD 31.7 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% from 2021 to 2028. The rising prevalence of dental caries both among children and adults is expected to drive the market.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that over 530 million children suffer from dental caries of primary teeth. Key players such as Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive Company have undertaken initiatives to spread awareness regarding dental hygiene, both for children and adults, creating demand for oral care products.

With a teeming population of over 200 million, Nigeria’s large population size provides immense potential for major toothpaste manufacturers as Unilever Nigeria, Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and African Consumer Care Limited battle to take their shares of the market. This explains why there are over thirty different toothpaste brands available in the Nigerian market with Close-Up from the stable of Unilever, Colgate from the stable of Colgate Palmolive, Oral-B from the stable of P & G, Dabur from the stable of African Consumer Care Limited, and Pepsodent from the stable of Unilever leading the pack.

Virtually all toothpastes are composed of the same ingredients. What makes them unique, therefore, is the formulation, the packaging, and the marketing strategy utilised to sell the brands to the target market.

To ascertain the true reflection of the country’s toothpaste market, MARKETING EDGE, Nigeria’s authoritative brand and marketing publication, visited some retail outlets at Oke-Arin and Apogbon on Lagos Island. After engaging some retailers and consumers, it was discovered that there’s an emerging new market trend driven by the current economic realities.

“Consumers would demand value for any kobo spent. And even in the face of brand loyalty, price at this time determines patronage,” retailer Temitope said, adding that many brands are on her shelf in different sizes because they are the most sought after by consumers. She, however, said that a particular brand sells more than the other.

Another retailer popularly called Bisola, said: “Before, I used to stock many brands but now I have to limit it because people buy based on their budget and some buy the brand they are used to. So, I buy what people demand for. I sell Oral-B for N500, Close-up N450, MyMy 300; their prices are not the same.”

Marketing intelligence revealed that not only Close-Up is well known among toothpaste users in Lagos despite the fact that it is widely used. Most of the respondents noted that they have literally used Close-Up, though some people have changed to other brands while some are still using it.

“When I was much younger my parents used to buy Close-Up, but now I’m using Pepsodent because I like the effect it has in my mouth and is also affordable,” said kazeem, a fashion designer resident in Lagos.

Blessing, another user, said that her household uses Longrich most of the time, but also alternates it with Oral-B, especially when they cannot easily access Longrich.

“For many years, I used Close-Up. But after I came across Oral-B and tried it, I had to change from Close-Up immediately. Today, my family and I use Oral-B. To be frank, Oral-B offers a greater advantage. That’s the only reason why it has done so well within such a short time,” said Mrs. Olaoye, a trader.

Also, some others said that they switched completely from Close-Up to Oral-B because they think that the latter has more to offer.


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