The oral care market: Recent shifts and future prospects

By Sneha Varghese Author’s note: The insights presented in this article are based on a study by global research and consulting firm Future Market Insights. The report, Oral Care Market, analyzes sales in more than 20 countries to provide an accurate market forecast. The importance of oral care and oral […]

By Sneha Varghese

Author’s note: The insights presented in this article are based on a study by global research and consulting firm Future Market Insights. The report, Oral Care Market, analyzes sales in more than 20 countries to provide an accurate market forecast.


The importance of oral care and oral care products has grown tremendously in recent years due to increasing awareness among consumers and improved information dissemination in developing countries. The core requirement for oral health-care products stems from the fact that most oral health conditions are preventable and/or treatable through products that are commercially available. Key among the oral conditions highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO) is dental caries, which can lead to tooth decay, the gangrenous disease noma that usually affects children who are malnourished, oral cancers, oral manifestations of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cleft lip and palate, oro-dental trauma, and other periodontal diseases.1

Given the breadth of oral conditions, the diverse oral care products market targets consumers as well as dental practitioners. Products and oral care solutions are nuanced and the level of expertise and infrastructure required to develop these products varies greatly from product to product. However, generic products that cater to consumers outstrip those catering to more niche markets in value terms due to the volume of consumers across the globe. Thus, the sales channels that the market relies on continue to be supermarkets and convenience stores, drug stores and pharmacies, specialty stores and, more recently, the online retail marketplace.

Current status and future estimates for the oral care market

The world oral care market in 2020 was valued at $53 billion in US dollars and it is estimated that the market will be valued at $96 billion by the end of 2031. It’s riding on the back of a steady increase in sales revenue at a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6% during the next 10 years.2 The various kinds of oral conditions are estimated to be affecting nearly 3.5 billion of the world’s 7.8 billion people. Of these 3.5 billion people, almost 2.3 billion are estimated to be suffering from caries that affects their permanent teeth, while more than 530 million children suffer from caries affecting their deciduous teeth.3 This provides a huge growth potential for the oral health-care market since caries is the most preventable (and often the easiest to prevent) type of dental ailment.

Besides the general growth trend and potential opportunities, key players in the oral health-care market need to be aware of demographic shifts in the market. The European segment currently dominates the market.2 This is in consonance with other broad trends such as high levels of awareness about oral health (which is due to high information penetration), easy access to markets with a broad range of products (a derivative of high levels of development), and a propensity of European consumers to go for high-end products due to high income levels. However, European countries are aging. As a result, key manufacturers are shifting their product portfolios in the European market. These shifts are likely to result in continued market growth, and Germany, Europe’s largest market, is estimated to continue growing at a CAGR of 6% over the next 10 years.2

The global market share, when divided in terms of demography, is overwhelmingly dominated by oral care products that are meant for children. These are valued at $24,213.4 million, followed by products for the elderly, valued at $18,091.6 million, and finally, products for adults, valued at $10,574.9 million.2 Given that Europe is the dominant regional segment for the market and faces the prospect of a rapidly aging population, it can be surmised that the geriatric population products segment will see the fastest growth. Furthermore, consumption of high-end products (i.e., products priced between $100 to $250), which is currently valued at $1,44,614 million,2 is also likely to grow rapidly. However, this situation is true only for the European segment and a direct correlation between the growth trajectory of the European and global oral health-care markets would be erroneous.

While the statistics for Europe give a fair estimation of where the market is headed in that region, the socioeconomic shifts in other regions of the world require prominent market players to have a more nuanced understanding of the oral care products market and to develop different approaches for different regions. A big challenge for manufacturers of oral health-care products has been the unequal distribution of oral health professionals, especially in poor regions of the globe. This low access to oral health professionals translates to low awareness and poor access to oral care products. For example, only 35% of people in low income countries express the need for oral health-care services and products as compared to 60% people in lower-middle income countries, 75% people in upper-middle income countries, and 82% people in high income countries.4

The regional segment that is likely to have the most potential during the coming decade is the Asia Pacific, where countries in the low-income bracket are steadily moving to the mid-income bracket, and those in the mid-income bracket are rapidly jumping into the high-income bracket. Significantly, China, the most populous country with 1.7 billion people, is the best example of the latter case. In terms of impact on the oral care market, consider that sales of middle range (between $20 and $100) and low range (below $20) products were valued at $2,62,150 million and $2,24,946 million, respectively, in 2020.2 Productwise, growth in this region is slated to follow a unique trajectory.

Global socioeconomic changes over the next decade are expected to lead to varying growth trajectories for the different oral care product manufacturers. In terms of product type, toothbrushes account for $35,184.3 million worth of sales globally, of which electric toothbrushes are worth $31,420.8 million and manual toothbrushes are worth $4,524.2 million. Toothpaste accounts for $12,921.3 million worth of sales, with pastes valued at $8,895.5 million, gels at $2,657.8 million, powders at $1,140.9 million, and polishes at $444.9 million. Mouthwashes are currently valued at $329.1 million, of which medicated ones account for $159.8 million, and nonmedicated ones for $176 million. The different types of dental floss are valued at $2,750 million.2 However, these consumption patterns are expected to undergo major shifts over the next 10 years.

Effects of COVID-19

As in the case of most other industries, the oral care market suffered greatly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Major hurdles for the market emerged from production and supply disruptions due to factory closures and unavailability of raw materials, logistics disruptions due to restrictions on movement (both inter- and intra-country), and sales disruptions due to the closures of some sales channels amid nationwide lockdowns. In 2021, some of these problems persist as many countries grapple with second, third, or fourth waves of the pandemic. However, with vaccination programs growing and people and industries learning to live with the new normal, it is now being acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic is a temporary disruption for the market.

However, it is said that the pandemic will leave some lasting effects on the oral health-care industry. Manufacturers in several countries have already adapted to global supply chain disruptions by tapping into local providers, thus leading to reduced interdependency. This holds true not only on the production side but also on the sales side in terms of increased focus on domestic and near markets. Such an approach has also found traction with the evolving economic and trade policies of several areas that are encouraging protectionist tendencies in their domestic market. Thus, the oral care industry is braced for enduring shifts in the years to come.

While the shifting supply, logistics, and sales patterns present several potential challenges for the oral care market, the increasing focus on public health spending is an opportunity for the market in absolute terms. For example, consider that even in high-income countries, the cost of dental treatment continues to be high and averages around 5% of the total health expenditure of developed countries.5 A classic example of a high-income country where free oral health care is limited is the United States, where the oral care products market accounts for 88% of the total North American regional market.2 With increasing government and public focus on health care and health-care products, sales of oral health-care products are  expected to receive a boost.


References

1. Oral Health. World Health Organization. March 25, 2020. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/oral-health. Accessed April 12, 2021.
2. Oral Care Market (2021-2031). Future Market Insights. Published 2021.
3. Disease and injury incidence and prevalence collaborators. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 354 diseases and injuries for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet. 2018;11(392):1789-1858.
4. Hosseinpoor AR, Itani L, Petersen PE. Socio-economic Inequality in Oral Healthcare Coverage: Results from the World Health Survey. J Dent Research. 2012;91(3):275-281. doi:10.1177/0022034511432341.
5. OECD. Health at a Glance 2017: OECD indicators. Published 2017. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/health_glance-2017-en.pdf?expires=1618321493&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=050F0ADA96FAC2ADCEE3387F405ECDA5. Accessed 13 April 2021.


Sneha Varghese, senior research consultant at Future Market Insights (FMI), heads the consumer product division at FMI, an ESOMAR-certified market research and consulting firm. 

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