Toothpaste is a basic dental hygiene product used by poor and rich alike in India. Despite the easy availability and plentiful brands affordable to people of all budgets, the country ranks among the poorest consumers of branded oral hygiene products in the world.
Average per capita consumption of toothpaste in India stands at shocking 127 grams annually. However, this figure does not imply that Indians lag behind in dental hygiene. People of this country, molded by centuries-old traditions of using herbs and natural products, utilize leaves, plants stems, roots and other motley stuff for dental hygiene.
Toothpaste Facts in India
A report published by New Delhi-based financial advisory, Sana Securities estimates that India’s oral hygiene industry to be worth Rs. 54 billion. Over 60 percent of this- Rs.32.4 billion- is contributed by toothpaste. About 23 percent is constituted by toothpowders at Rs.1.24 billion and remainder accounts for the toothbrush, dental floss, tongue cleaners and other related accessories.
Another astonishing fact is, only 55 percent Indians use toothpaste and less than 15 percent brush teeth twice daily. Despite the fact that toothpaste has a long and enviable history in India
Over the last two decades, India’s oral hygiene industry has undergone a sea change. A wide range of toothpastes are now available in this country. Broadly, toothpaste in India can be divided into three broad categories.
- Fluoridated Toothpaste: Ones containing 1,000ppm of fluoride per gram.
- Non-Fluoridated Toothpaste: That does not contain any fluoride.
- Herbal Toothpaste: Made with herbal extracts known to ensure dental hygiene and available as fluoridated and non-fluoridated versions.
Top 10 Best Toothpaste in India
1. Colgate (By Colgate Palmolive (India) Ltd
Colgate (regular) remains the oldest and most popular brand of toothpaste in India. By end 2017, the classic or regular version of Colgate held a little less than 50 percent of the country’s toothpaste market. Colgate also comes in various variants including Colgate Active Salt and Colgate MaxFresh gel.
In India, the brand Colgate is synonymous with toothpaste. People across India use the term ‘Colgate’ while referring to toothpaste. Unfortunately, Colgate is also the most widely imitated brand of toothpaste in India. Its distinct red box, red-capped tube and lettering style is used widely to promote inferior quality products disguised as Colgate by using similar sounding names such as ‘Collgate’, ‘Coolgate’ and even ‘College’.
While Colgate regular toothpaste with its strong mint flavor retains sway over the Indian market, it other variants are yet to make any significant mark. Thus, Colgate is ranked as The No1 toothpaste in India.
2. Dant Kanti (By Patanjali Ayurved Ltd)
Dant Kanti is a fluoridated toothpaste made with herbs. Made by Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, it displaced other popular brands to emerge as the second largest selling toothpaste in India. It is the largest brand of Ayurvedic toothpastes in India. There are several reasons for popularity of Dant Kanti, the first being its economical price which puts it within the reach of a very large segment of India’s population.
The growing aversion among Indians to chemical based products over herbal varieties has also led Dant Kanti to the second position. Further, Patanjali is a brand promoted by world renowned Yoga guru, Baba Ramdev who has a very wide following in India. In recent months, Patanjali Ayurved has launched three variants of Dant Kanti. These include Dant Kanti Advanced, Dant Kanti Medicated Gel and Dant Kanti Junior- for kids. Also, Dant Kanti is one of the fastest Growing Toothpaste Brand in India.
3. Sensodyne (By GlaxoSmithKline)
We rank Sensodyne at number three for two main reasons. It is the only toothpaste in India that is widely used by people afflicted with Gingivitis and sensitive teeth caused by conditions such as hidden cavities and depleted dental enamel, among others. Sensodyne is a global brand.
It is perhaps the only Over the Counter (OTC) product that finds its mention on prescriptions, with dentists recommending its use for people with dental sensitivity. Due to its properties of coating teeth with a layer of chemicals, Sensodyne is rather expensive toothpaste. It comes in three variants- Sensodyne Sensitive, Sensodyne Repair & Protect and Sensodyne Whitening.
4. Close-Up ( By Hindustan Unilever Ltd)
Before two years, Close-Up ranked as the second most popular toothpaste in India. Rather, this cinnamon flavored product is better known as a dental gel. It comes in various flavors. Close-Up is also an international brand, available in North America, Europe and the Middle East. It was primarily targeted at young users who suffer from bad breath and mouth odor.
Since its debut in 1967, Close-Up has undergone several improvements. It now comes in variants such as Close-Up Deep Action, Close-Up Fire Freeze and Close-Up Ever Fresh and Close-Up Diamond Sparkle, among others. This toothpaste is very popular in urban centers of India.
5. Pepsodent (By Hindustan Unilever Ltd)
Till mid-1990s, Pepsodent was a brand made by HUL mainly for the export market. Pepsodent became an almost instant success after its launch in India. Pepsodent is a global brand of Unilever and sells worldwide. It was launched by an eponymous company in the US in 1915 and was bought over by Unilever in 1944. Till 2016, Pepsodent swayed between the second and third most popular toothpastes in India.
Currently, Pepsodent is available in four variants- Pepsodent Germicheck Plus, Pepsodent Expert Protection, Pepsodent Gum Care and Pepsodent Center Fresh (gel). Pepsodent is very popular among urban population of India. It is known for its distinct mint flavor which stands out over other toothpastes in its class.
6. Promise (By Dabur India Ltd)
Promise toothpaste was India’s first experiment in oral hygiene products that combine tradition and modernity. It was launched by Balsara Hygiene Products in 1978 and benefitted immensely from a popular TV commercial that featured Maya Alagh as model.
The toothpaste contains clove oil that has been traditionally used in India for dental hygiene and especially to stub pains related to dental cavities. Promise gave stiff competition to Cibaca, Colgate and now extinct Forhans after its launch
. In mid-1980s, the focus on benefits of fluoridated toothpastes saw popularity of Promise waning rapidly. Today, Promise toothpaste is made by India’s Ayurveda-based FMCG major, Dabur India Ltd, which acquired the brand in 1990s. Promise is also available as a dental gel.
7. Babool (By Dabur India Ltd)
Babool toothpaste was launched by Dabur India Ltd in line with its stated mission of promoting healthcare in economically weaker areas of the country. Till date, a 200 gram tube of Babool toothpaste is the cheapest brand in the market, costing just around Rs 65, depending upon Goods and Services Tax applicable.
Babool is a non-fluoridated toothpaste that draws its popularity for containing extracts of ‘babool’ or ‘babli’ tree, which remains widely used in Indian villages for dental hygiene. Babool rightly deserves the accolade of popularizing the use of toothpaste in rural India at a time when brands by Multi National Companies (MNCs) and Indian FMCG majors were out of reach for common villagers.
8. Vedashakti ( by Colgate Palmolive (India) Ltd
Vedashakti is a herbal toothpaste launched by Colgate Palmolive to counter the market onslaught by Ayurvedic companies of India into the oral hygiene market. Several market analysts view Vedashakti as a response by Colgate Palmolive to keep it toothpaste segment profitable after flagship Colgate lost large portions of the market to a couple of herbal toothpaste brands.
Vedashakti is attracting attention of Ayurvedic toothpaste aficionados in the country but still has a long way to cover before it can reach anywhere near topmost herbal products in the category.
9. Ayush (By Hindustan Unilever Ltd)
Smarting after losing a top market position for its Close-Up and Pepsodent brands, Hindustan Unilever decided to stage a comeback in the market by launching its own brand of Ayurvedic toothpaste- Ayush. Since its launch in 2017, Ayush has found a large following among toothpaste lovers, though it continues to struggle against major Indian herbal variants.
Ayush toothpaste is available in three variants- Ayush Whitening Toothpaste, Ayush Freshness Gel toothpaste and Ayush Anti Cavity Clove Oil Toothpaste.
10. Vicco Vajradanti
Vicco Vajradanti is the pioneer of India’s Ayurvedic toothpaste industry. Vicco Vajradanti was never marketed as toothpaste but rather as ‘herbal paste’ that was bereft of any chemicals and foaming agents. It has been around in the Indian market for over half a century and continues to hold its position despite intense competition.
Vicco Vajradanti owes its popularity to the unique formula that is composed by 18 different herbs and herbal extracts mentioned in Ayurveda for their dental hygiene properties. Vicco Vajradanti is a very niche dental care product and has a dedicated following. It is the only non-foaming dental care product in India.
History of Toothpaste in India
A lot of ambiguity exists over the arrival of this common Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) item into India. While history bears witness that FMCG giant Colgate-Palmolive began selling its world famous Colgate toothpaste in India in 1922, there is also some evidence that proves Indians knew how to make toothpaste using herbs and charcoal powder for centuries.
However, the most popular brand in India in mid-1900s was Binaca- a brand manufactured and sold by Swiss pharmaceuticals major Ciba-Geigy. Binaca, late renamed Cibaca, owes its rampant popularity up to 1980s to its popular radio show, ‘Binaca Sangeet Mala’ and later ‘Cibaca Sangeet Mala’ broadcast over Radio Ceylon (now Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) and hosted by Ameen Sayani. The show featured songs from top Hindi movies, sometimes dating back to 1930s and 1940s.
Forhans was another widely popular brand of toothpaste in India and held sway over the market for almost 50 years, before fading into glory.
According to a report by Research and Markets states: “India Oral care market Outlook, 2022” India oral care market is anticipated to increase with Compounded Annual Growth Rate of more than 11 percent in the next three years.” The figure can be higher considering the rapid development that Tier-III cities, towns and villages of India are now witnessing.
Additionally, competition in the domestic toothpaste market is expected to intensify exponentially. Indian Ayurveda giant Himalaya Herbals is making rapid progress with its Himalaya Complete Care toothpaste. Not to be left behind, the fast emerging FMCG major from Bangalore, SriSri Tattva has its own toothpaste, Sudanta- also based on Ayurveda.
American FMCG major had to withdraw its Oral-B range from India due to poor market demand. That India’s toothpaste market will be dominated by herbal products is imminent, given their burgeoning popularity. What remains to be seen is, how much further can purely chemical based toothpastes remain afloat in this country.