Would you pay US$20 for toothpaste?

May 30, 2016 14:27
Oral B launched its premium gum care toothpaste in mainland China in January, charging 159 yuan for a set of two tubes. Photo: HKTDC

I pay between HK$15 (US$1.93) and HK$20 for a tube of toothpaste, and I guess that would be the average amount most people spend on the stuff.

But Oral B is betting that mainland Chinese are willing to splash a lot more for oral care.

Back in January, the US brand, owned by Procter & Gamble, began selling its "daily 2-step gum care system", charging 159 yuan (US$24.10) for a set of two tubes of toothpaste, about eight to 10 times as much as rival products cost, a report from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council says.

Oral B has full confidence that there is demand for the product despite its high price tag.

“Chinese consumers have been buying a huge amount of premium skincare and haircare products," Ouyang Qingqiu, president of P&G’s Greater China oral care division said.

"When it comes to oral care, though, there appears to be a huge gap when compared with consumers in western countries.” 

Mainlanders are said to have become more aware of how poor dental hygiene can adversely affect one's eating and personal appearance and are now paying more attention to oral health.

Ouyang pointed to a surge in the number of dental clinics as an encouraging sign.

Perhaps the Oral B product will appeal to affluent mainlanders, who won’t hesitate to go for the best.

But for those who want to take good care of their teeth and gums with an average budget, I would suggest checking with their dentists first, which is what I normally do before trying out new, especially pricey oral products.

As my dentist always reminds me, expensive ones are not always necessary or better.

For example, toothpaste for sensitive teeth may be a short-term solution to the symptom, but from a dentist’s point of view, patients with this problem should correct their brushing habits (using less force) to get to the root of the issue.

Using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth may, in fact, encourage bad habits and worsen the problem in the long run.

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EJ Insight writer