Gunjit Jain says that toothpaste penetration in India has reached 100 percent. Almost 100 percent of India’s households have a toothpaste at home.O
ral category in India stands at 2 billion US dollars. The majority chunk of that is toothpaste. Yet, 80 percent of urban Indians brush just once a day and 55 percent of their rural counterparts do not even brush daily; they brush occasionally. If instead of just brushing in the morning, we also brush at night, the chances of developing cavities drop by a whopping 50 percent. Using this insight, Colgate has come up with The Sweet Truth campaign.
Gunjit Jain, executive vice president of marketing at Colgate-Palmolive India breaks down Colgate’s strategy to change customer behavior and habits in regards to oral hygiene through The Sweet Truth campaign. Edited excerpts:Q. Can you explain the need of the Sweet Truth campaign? How did Colgate conceptualize the ad?
Did you know that 9 out of 10 Indians suffer from cavities at any point in time whereas only 1 out of 10 realise that they do? 9 out of 10 is a very high number; that’s because of the kind of foods that we consume as Indians, whether it is sugar, processed food, sodas. All of these foods come in contact with our teeth, the teeth lose calcium and minerals thus exposing themselves to cavities. Only 1 out of 10 people realise that they have cavities’ because people don’t visit dentists often enough. These issues go undetected; therefore they reach painful outcomes such as tooth pain, root canal or extraction.
But, cavities can be prevented. For instance, if instead of just brushing in the morning, we also brush at night, the chances of developing cavities drop by a whopping 50 percent. Colgate has embarked on this mission to make people realise that they can avoid cavities by just brushing tonight.
The last thing millions of people put on their teeth is sugar and not toothpaste. Indians irrespective of geography and demography are sugar obsessed; we cannot resist picking up something sweet after dinner tonight whether it is chocolate, laddu or kulfi. Even though many people know sugar is bad for us, we can’t resist. Therefore, the Sweet Truth campaign.Q. The campaign was released during the festive season. What was the rationale behind it?
The festive season is definitely a period where consumption of sweets and snacking behaviour is going to get accentuated. It is surely timely. We are breaking on air at a moment in time where it becomes even more relevant, but would it lose relevance immediately after that? Absolutely not. This is our mission which is going to continue for years and years.
Behavior change doesn't happen overnight. The campaign aims to make people realise that while sugar is the last thing you are putting on your teeth, you can save yourself from cavities if you are brushing at night.Also read: From Flipkart to Google, brands are making billboards great againQ. How has the customer evolved over the years in the oral hygiene category?
I joined this company back in 2008. I worked with the India Colgate subsidiary and after that I have been out for a decade and now I have come back. During this time, the one thing that I have really been surprised to see is that the category penetration in this country has now reached almost 100 percent which means almost 100 percent of India’s households have a toothpaste at home.
Not many categories can boast of this. It used to be a relatively lower number than this almost a decade ago. However, the gap still remains which is where the evolution in the oral hygiene category hasn’t happened to that extent. Even though there is toothpaste in every household, 80 percent of urban Indians brush just once a day. Similarly, 55 percent of their rural counterparts do not even brush daily; they brush occasionally. That is why they still have oral health issues.Q. How is Colgate addressing this gap?
We have invested in Our flagship school programme Bright Smile Bright Future which has been there over the last 4 plus (1976) decades. We have reached out to 170 million kids to generate the right habits for oral care because kids tend to be the ones who bring the right habits home very often. We also partner with the government. We tied up with the government of Andhra Pradesh this year. The objective of Project Dr YSR Chinaravvu is to improve oral health awareness; this particular project will reach over 45000 schools and about 3 million kids in Andhra Pradesh.Also read: Humanise your brand, appeal to the five senses: Sumit Virmani, CMO, Infosys
We also invest in specific campaign interventions which are consumer facing which can create specific awareness and lead to change in behaviour. This is where The Sweet Truth is coming.Q.AI in the marketing world has been trending for some time. How are you leveraging AI?
All actions that marketers take can be divided into three specific spheres – strategy, commercial planning and execution. Our strategy remains intact – to improve people’s oral health and beauty through superior products, communication and execution. AI is helping us improve our efficiency and effectiveness on commercial planning and execution.
We cover about 1.7 million stores directly. When our sales representative goes to stores, historically they would try to sell a particular assortment. Today, based on past purchase behaviour and other signals, our AI enabled technology is able to recommend to them a unique assortment for each of these 1.7 million stores. This allows us to be able to widen our assortment which can be measured as the number of lines that we sell and this improves our distribution.
Another case in point is our execution on shelves in modern trade stores. The arrangements of toothpaste on the shelf are face-on, end-on and stand-up. Our AI capabilities are able to pace the entire shelf together and then give us an assessment of how we are performing. In the future, it will also be able to have a unique planogram in each and every store. In summary, AI is helping us to improve efficiency in commercial planning and execution.Also read: Piyush Pandey and Ogilvy: A look back at Indian advertising's greatest inningsQ. How does the brand’s marketing mix work?
Our media planning is based on our objectives, proposition and target demographic. Colgate Strong Teeth were marketed on TV heavily as it gave us a lot of reach but we also know that digital gives us the incremental. Strong teeth’s proposition is strength of teeth; it is also available at a value pricing that pretty much everybody in this country can afford.
We have a premium brand called Colgate Visible White where the target is relatively tighter, more digitally savvy. Visible White is specifically positioned for beauty and grooming seekers who want to whiten their teeth. Since whitening is a relatively higher order benefit, it is also priced premium.
Teeth whitening as a segment in India is still nascent. It contributes only about 1 percent to the overall category value. In other developing markets, it has gotten to above 30-40 percent of the category value. Thus the overall legroom of growth is immense. To be able to get this legroom of growth, we created an everyday whitening product at a premium value. The customer can also add on a super premium whitening toothbrush, and they can even get access to an overnight whitening pen device at an uber premium pricing.Also read: The need for experiential marketing has become even bigger: Audi's Gaurav SinhaQ. How is Colgate planning to grow and expand?
Colgate aims to drive category consumption. We are working towards encouraging 80 percent of urban households who do not brush at night. Similarly, we are also considering ways to drive the 55 percent of rural households to brush daily. Colgate is also aspiring to lead premiumisation of the category by establishing and owning higher order benefits.