Don’t get burned by oral health branding

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Research reveals brand power beats celebrity endorsements when it comes to our oral health product buying habits

Celebrity endorsements can cost companies significant amounts of money, but, according to new research from the Oral Health Foundation, it may be not as effective as once thought.

The charity’s new investigation has found that when it comes to our oral health, celebrity endorsements are likely to have little effect on our buying habits, with brand power being the key selling point.

A nationwide poll found less than one in 20 (four per cent) said they were influenced in their oral health buying habits by celebrity endorsement – a whopping ten times less than those who bought based on brand power (41 per cent).

The other influential things people considered when choosing an oral health product included cost (24 per cent) and recommendations by a dental professional (23 per cent).

Dr Ben Atkins, dentist and Trustee of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “Instagram feeds, YouTube channels and Facebook pages are often filled with celebrity endorsements for products so it’s very interesting to understand just how this is influencing behaviour.

“There is no doubt that by using a celebrity’s profile, products can get a helping hand in reaching more people. Over recent years, I have certainly seen a growth in my own dental practice of patients seeking my advice about new products, which they have seen backed by a celebrity endorsement.

“One very recent example here is of charcoal toothpaste as an avenue to whiten teeth – the effectiveness of which has been completely disproven. Despite the wave of celebrities on social media being paid to endorse them, consumers are still putting more trust into proven and professionally recommended products.”

The research into the UK’s oral health consumer habits, carried out as part of National Smile Month, a whole month dedicated to creating health smiles, also found that endorsements from independent professional bodies was something a large amount of people looked for when buying health and beauty products.

For over 25 years, the Oral Health Foundation has worked with manufacturers to develop an Accreditation programme that tests the marketing claims of oral health products against scientific evidence submitted to an independent panel.
In that time, the charity has tested thousands of products sold in more than 60 countries.

“It is too easy for manufacturers to make unscrupulous claims about the effectiveness of their products,” added Dr Atkins.

“The Oral Health Foundation’s Accreditation programme aims to prevent this by offering reassurance to consumers that the product they are buying does what it says it does. A totally independent panel of experts evaluates each product claim. It also regulates what companies can put on their packaging to prevent outlandish claims.”

Here are Dr Atkins’ top tips to look for in dental products:

1. Look for independent professional endorsement – This is a great way of knowing that the products do what they say they do.

2. Check the ingredients – Especially important when it comes to toothpaste, ensure it has the correct amount of fluoride to protect your teeth (up to 1500ppm for an adult).

3. Make sure the product is suitable for you – Everybody has their own specific needs, check the packaging to make sure it does what you want it to.

4. Don’t be seduced by packaging and jargon – With hundreds of oral health products on the market it can be easy to pick the flashiest on the shelf, but this may not be the right choice for you.

5. If in doubt, ask your dental team – Not sure about something, ask an expert, your dental team knows you and they are perfectly placed to ask to find the right product.

Visit www.smilemonth.org for more information about how to get a healthy mouth and to learn about how you can get involved in this year’s campaign.