There is stiff competition from heavyweights like Colgate and Unilever: Prashant Pandey

"To create a market for specialist toothpaste in the middle of this competitive scenario appeared to be an insurmountable challenge," says Pandey as he talks about Sensodyne’s journey

e4m by Sarmistha Neogy
Updated: Aug 31, 2015 8:32 AM
There is stiff competition from heavyweights like Colgate and Unilever: Prashant Pandey

Sensodyne, the oral healthcare brand from GSK Consumer Healthcare India, which has a market share of 33 per cent in the Rs 500+ crore sensitive toothpaste market, has announced the second year of its ‘Wake up to tooth sensitivity’ campaign. It will run across various media channels for one month and spread awareness on tooth sensitivity in a country, where majority of the people who suffer from the problem continue to use the basic toothpaste.

Commenting on the insight behind the campaign, Prashant Pandey, Marketing Director of GSK Consumer Healthcare, said, “The problem is tooth sensitivity is not considered as a severe problem by sufferers. In India, 35 per cent of adults suffer from this problem, out of which, currently, only one in five who sufferer, take any remedial action. This could involve either visiting a dentist or using specialised toothpaste for sensitive teeth. The rest of the sufferers either live with the problem, or have devised strategies to cope with it, for example: avoidance of food that causes sensitivity, waiting for hot beverages to cool down before drinking them, eating from a different side of the mouth when suffering from the pangs of tooth sensitivity, etc.”

The brand which came into the market in 2011 used a four way matrix mainly based on media share of voice, expert marketing (dentist outreach), retail visibility and activation to target customers. According to Pandey, southern market had an edge in comparison to other markets due to its high literacy rate and media isolation.

Excerpts from an interview with Prashant Pandey:

How will Sensodyne be marketing the ‘Wake up to tooth sensitivity’ campaign?

We are adopting a holistic approach for the campaign comprising of distinct streams such as consumer engagement, retail initiatives and digital awareness. The campaign will run across various media channels such as Print, TV and New media to popularise the Sensitometer test containing questions around the condition. There will be extensive emphasis on on-ground activations through sampling initiatives in Shatabdi trains, corporate houses and door-to-door sampling initiatives. There will also be direct interaction of promoters with the consumers in leading modern trade outlets to drive the message of sensitivity and urge people to take a sample.

The digital campaign will lead the user to the online version of the Sensitometer test ending with an option to ask for a sample on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, websites, mobile and many more. This time we are also unfolding the campaign on radio across various cities, by having RJs to talk to people on the condition and urging them to shake inertia and take action immediately.

What prompted you to come up with the second phase of the campaign? What was the response last year?

The campaign is an annual property as there is huge inertia to change in the toothpaste category. Last year, our core intent was to raise relevance of tooth sensitivity and establish the proposition that a sensitivity-free life is a no-compromise life. We rolled out the campaign to connect with over 20 lakh people through “Sensodyne Roadshow” featuring a canter that travelled across various cities visiting high footfall areas and popular markets in each city. At last year’s WUTS canter, individuals experienced the journey of suffering from tooth sensitivity via series of activities and conversations to cope with the condition.

This year, we are popularising the tool to self-diagnose tooth sensitivity on various media channels; break the inertia and switch to de-sensitising toothpaste. As word-of-mouth has emerged as a critical lever to drive trials, we will also be seeking stories of relief from real users and share their positive stories of change on radio call- ins, mobile and social media platforms to inspire others to change. The scale of this year’s campaign is much bigger than the previous year.

What are the challenges of marketing in the oral-health care industry?

Oral-health care industry is a highly competitive and cluttered category, with a large amount of people still using basic toothpastes. In a developing country like India, oral care market in some regions is still a trade-up from tooth powder and neem sticks. Furthermore, numerous researches show that consumers are happy with their current toothpaste and there is almost no need-gap in the market as people are habituated to consuming basic benefit toothpastes.

There is also fierce competition faced by specialist toothpaste brands from heavyweight players like Colgate and Unilever who dominate the oral care market. In 2011, Sensodyne faced stiff challenges in such a market where the concept of specialised oral care products did not exist. Awareness of tooth sensitivity as a problem was nascent and therefore consumers did not see a need for the product with sensitivity relief benefits. To create a market for specialist toothpaste in the middle of this competitive scenario appeared to be an insurmountable challenge. But today, through Sensodyne’s constant outreach programs, the brand has emerged as a market leader in its category, overtaking other established players in the market. 

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