In a move that would seem to satisfy the dreams of the small child in all of us who hated brushing their teeth, Crest has recently launched  the Crest Be product line, which includes “unexpected flavors with refreshing cleansing benefits”.  One of those unexpected flavors is Mint Chocolate Trek, a bold and unique offering, especially considering that the chocolate is not usually the first thing that consumers associate with hygiene.  Other flavors included in the Crest Be line include Spearmint Zest and Vanilla Mint, although neither of those carry the same immediate emotional reaction of “chocolate toothpaste”.

Will it work?  Consumers want a fresh taste that gives them the sensation and reassurance of their teeth being clean. Mintel’s Oral Care—US, May 2013 report provides evidence that flavor is an important product attribute for consumers. Some 71% of oral care product users say that flavor is important when they are making an oral care product purchase. In general, mint and citrus flavors have dominated the category, especially the toothpaste segment for several decades.

The new Crest Be line has the ability to shake up the category and challenge consumers’ flavor preferences. If this line is popular with consumers, it could result in other companies and brands following Crest and introducing more new flavor profiles into the category.

New flavors could also encourage consumers to spend more time making selections versus always sticking with the same product or brand. Mintel’s Oral Care—US, May 2013 report also finds many consumers (43%) say that they stick with the same brand of oral care products. Another 43% say that they already know what oral care products and brands they’re going to buy before they get to the store. If consumers find that these new flavors give them the same functional benefits, it could encourage consumers to be more willing to try out new brands or flavors.

While these new flavors are an exciting development for the category, convincing consumers that these flavors still deliver the same cleansing and oral health benefits could prove to be a challenge for Crest. Consumers expect that their teeth will look and feel clean when using these products, and a chocolate flavor, while tied with mint, is a flavor that is not commonly associated with clean and fresh sensations.   So the key will be changing people’s perceptions on something that is so ingrained as being a certain way for such a long period of time…does anybody remember green ketchup?

It’s too early to say if it will be a success, but the early results look good.  On the Crest website, people can vote for their favorite new flavor, and Mint Chocolate currently leads the pack by a wide margin, with 45% of the vote.

Gabriela brings a strong background in marketing strategy, innovation, and consumer research to Mintel, where she leverages her knowledge across the home and personal care series of reports, as well as related household, consumer packaged goods, and beauty reports.

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