Colgate banks on innovation

14 May 2013

NEW YORK: Colgate, the oral care brand, is looking to innovate in its products and communications in order to engage consumers and drive growth in the future.

Colgate-Palmolive chief executive Ian M Cook told the company's annual stockholders' meeting that in the wake of global financial crisis consumers had reassessed their idea of value and were no longer focused just on price.

"They're looking for innovation that they believe is worth the money they pay for that innovation," he said.

He noted a recent Kantar Worldpanel survey which had found Colgate to be the one packaged goods brand that reached more than half the world's population, as he claimed a 46% share of the global toothpaste market and a 33% share of the toothbrush market.

Cook cited as examples of product innovation new tooth brush designs, while innovative communications in emerging markets focused on direct contact with shoppers and small store owners.

In Peru, for example, Colgate has pioneered the use of toothbrush shopping carts in stores. This featured women in supermarkets pushing trollies labelled with all the different types of Colgate toothbrushes and engaging with consumers as they shopped.

"One of the most important [techniques] in the emerging high-growth markets is to get to those small stores in the rural areas, the so-called mom-and-pop stores," said Cook.

"We reach them with small vans and indeed tricycles in some cases," he explained. "And in the bigger stores, we use the bigger displays that are eye-catching to get people's attention to the new brushes we have in our portfolio".

It was also crucial, he noted, to reach the dental profession, and here Colgate was increasingly utilising new technology – "digital technology with tablets" – to persuade them of the benefits of Colgate brushes for their patients.

Another area the company was focused on was "communicating a regimen benefit".

This involved, outlined Cook, "the idea that using a Colgate toothpaste with a Colgate toothbrush and a Colgate mouth rinse is a faster or better benefit than simply using one of the products on their own".

This idea was being applied not just to oral health products but also to products with a cosmetic edge, such as the Optic White/Luminous teeth whitening range.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff