Wednesday, June 02, 2010

All In My Mouth





When I was a small boy, I would be excited to go to the shop and buy the toothpaste. But those were the days when toothpaste came, as Henry Ford would have put it, any colour - so long as it's white. But then things have changed. So has what I consume for my oral hygiene.

Tooth paste: As I said, paste for many years to me was the white uninteresting Colgate. So when the color TVs arrived and Close Up ads played, I finally felt there was some hope. At the age of 10, I took a firm control over the decision to buy the toothpaste. Maybe I love red color or probably the mouthwash included in the paste was the reason. One of the most difficult moments in life is having to deal or converse with someone who has a bad breath. And I have dealt with many. The fear that I should not have a bad breath was probably the biggest driver. Also being a gynephilic, one has to send the right breath out. Those days, in addition to Colgate, brands such as Binaca (later, Cibaca) and Promise were the other options. Till about 2 or 3 yearsback, I was always a Close Up loyalist.


Lekin Master Ji, app ke daanth! Remember this line from Dabur Red tooth powder ad. Well, Dabur products were never in the contention. But a sudden chance and eagerness to try Dabur Red has changed the course of my oral care journey. In fact, Dentist's suggest that one should change the toothpaste, often. I believe the germs in the mouth also get used to a particular paste as much as the mosquitoes to DDT. And believe me I made a right choice in Dabur's product. Dabur Red comes into your mouth like an electric shock. It is bloody spicy and leaves a burning sensation long (maybe because of laung/clove) after you have brushed. I must say no other toothpaste has refreshed me as much as Dabur Red has. Encouraged by Dabur Red, I decided to try other products from the company's stable. And, again, trust me, you will love Meswak for its taste and feel. Dabur Herbal is also good but comes third in my ranking. Encourage by the overall experience, I recently bought Babool. Seems to be ok. But I think I will go back to Red and Meswak.
Tooth brush: As important as a paste but probably the most least involvement category is the brush. I, too, was very indifferent and brand un-conscious. It had to be less than Rs. 20 and SOFT. A while back, Savitha went to a dentist for routine check. The doctor advised her to use Colgate Massager. Huh, Massager! So, as a good wife, she decided to pick on for me. And that was when I realized that the value you derive from a product is directly proportional to the price of the product. Use it to, to feel it.

Mouth wash: Have you seen the ad of Listrine featuring Cyrus Sahukar? The first time I used Listrine, my mouth exploded pretty much the way it has been depicted in the ad. Except, cheeks stayed intact. The alcohol inside your mouth does have a telling effect on your eyes. And after you have gotten used to Listrine, any other mouthwash is a compromise. I did use Plax, didn't work out for me.

Floss: Now, I am quite certain that for an average Indian, I am more adventurous as far as trying out new products for the mouth is concerned. But it is not that I am, basically or generally, like that. I have this problem of food pieces getting stuck between my teeth. So, on one such occasion, I decided to buy a Oral B Floss. I found it too cumbersome to use and the fine plastic did hurt my gums. On a trip to Health & Glow, I saw a pack of floss. It was a toothpick at one end and a U at the other end with flossing ribbon. Worked well for me. I don't want to share gory details, but I can tell you that if nose could smell in between the teeth, one can die. That is exaggeration for elucidation! While big brands also have this type of floss, they don't seem to be in the shelves.

Not only expensive products but also these inexpensive and colorful plastic tongue cleaners have become part of the daily routine. My mouth has become very sophisticated and demanding customer. It makes me wonder as to what percentage of the grocery bill goes just inside my mouth. And how many brands and products fight for a piece of my mouth.

All this for what? Well, health. And, of course, to have a non-smelly conversation.

But from Marketing perspective it is quite interesting to observe consumer behavior. In my opinion, most of the products that we use for oral health are low involvement category products with high customer loyalty, especially for tooth pastes. On the other hand, brushes, except for mature customers, doesn't attract much of loyalty/stickiness. On the other hand, penetration of mouth wash and floss should be very low. It took me more than 30 years, to take the giant leap and that too without any obvious reasons. Walk into a super market, the oral products do corner a huge space!

The fight for my mouth-share!
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