While China’s toothpaste market has long been dominated by big brands from leading mainstream personal care companies, Chinese consumers are branching out and purchasing niche toothpaste brands with innovative packaging, colours and flavours.

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD)the ratio of imported toothpaste has increased in recent years, accounting for almost half of new launches in 2017. At the same time, niche brands own a share of the market as well. Here, we shine a spotlight on niche toothpaste brands in the Chinese market and reveal how they are appealing to local consumers.

Storytelling is essential to success

Italian toothpaste brand Marvis succeeds in telling a ‘sparkling’ story, positioning itself as “the Hermès of toothpaste”. Marvis’ products stand out from competitors with their bold flavours, exotic packaging and premium prices, creating a buzz on social media networks. This has led to the brand’s strong performance in the Chinese market.

Considering China’s huge population, and the growing consumer trend for trading up, more niche brands should make a fast entry into the market. Mainstream, or established, brands can also introduce sub-brand ranges, limited edition versions or crossover products to meet consumers’ expectations.

Marvis Karakum Toothpaste with Orange and Lemon Scent, Italy
The product offers a sophisticated flavour and lasting freshness. The brand positions itself as a premium toothpaste and has succeeded in generating consumer discussion on social media.

A differentiated distribution strategy

The success that niche toothpaste brands have been enjoying is partly due to the diversified retail landscape. The mix of personal care chain stores (like Watson’s), mid/high-end supermarkets with more imported and higher-priced products, and online retailers (such as NetEase Yanxuan) have all enabled faster and more convenient market entry for imported toothpaste.

Niche brands would do well to work with emerging online retailers in order to increase their presence and, in particular, reach out to a wider network of young consumers.

Dentyl Dual Action Mouth Wash, UK (Source: Netease YanXuan)
The product features a double-layered texture and needs to be shaken to mix before use. It is sold via online retailer Netease YanXuan.

“Good-looking” toothpaste is more appealing

With social media’s marketing power and the craze of photo sharing, product appearance is now a key purchase driver for Chinese consumers. On many online communities, “good-looking” has emerged as a popular tag for these types of niche toothpaste. Therefore, to target digital natives, innovative concepts should be visual, with a focus on the product’s packaging, texture and fragrance to stimulate consumers’ senses.

Colgate Love Limited Edition Toothpaste, China (Source: jd.com)
Colgate launched a limited-edition Love toothpaste for Valentine’s Day 2018. With transparent tube packaging and innovative texture (a crystal-like paste with heart-shaped chips), it has attracted young consumers.

Oprecare Toothpaste range, South Korea (Source: www.oprecare.com)
The brand claims to deliver specific benefits depending on the time of day. The product comes in various bottles, each highlighted in different numbers to showcase the accurate time to be used.

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