Repair and Protect Toothpaste – Winning the Zeroth Moment of Truth [ZMOT]

with 4 Comments

gsk_1_151129Repair and Protect has taken the toothpaste world by storm.

Let’s explore how gsk has made this the “World’s best selling toothpaste.”

Background on gsk:

gsk is a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in the UK. It has three business units:  Pharmaceuticals (Net sales 2014, $15.5B); Consumer Healthcare (Net Sales 2014, $4.3B) and Vaccines (Net sales 2014, $3.2B).

The Sensodyne suite of tooth and gum treatment products is a fast growing segment (sales growth in 2014, 11%) in Consumer Healthcare.

Sensodyne is a premium priced product line that competes with much lower priced products (50% to 75%) marketed by FMCPG companies with high brand recognition, e..g., Colgate-Palmolive Total, P&G Crest and Unilever Signal.

The continuing challenge for gsk is to show how its Sensodyne products deliver much greater value and support much higher prices.

Failure to address this challenge will result in rapidly declining gross margins.

How this all started:

US Biomaterials spun out Novamin when Len Litkowski, director of clinical studies at the School of Dentistry – University of Maryland, declared that the successes experienced with bone repair on combat soldiers returning form Vietnam could translate into similar successes in repairing the dentyn layer and reducing sensitivity in teeth.  Investors agreed and invedted $10MM in April, 2004 and an additional $2.5MM in 2008.

Novamin introduced Oravive in 2005.

gsk_2_151129Value Innovations was hired to recruit Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and lead a Key Expert Panel (KEP).  The SMEs included retired VPs of R&D from P&G and Colgate Palmolive.  The SMEs charted a path forward for Novamin to address its two primary challenges.

Following this KEP Colgate-Palmolive executed a license to use Novamin technology but subsequently backed out.

In 2009, Novamin announced that gsk acquired the company for $135MM and the Alachua operation was closed down.

gsk launched Repair and Protect toothpaste in the UK in May, 2010.  gsk’s challenge was to win the Zeroth and Second Moments of Truth (ZMOT and SMOT) with their Most Important Customer, Ms Consumer.

What’s the ZMOT?

It is what you have to do to convince Ms Consumer that she should pay a premium (4 pounds for a 75ml tube of Repair and Protect compared to 1.25 pounds for a tube of P&G’s Crest) for a product she has never seen before.

gsk adopted the following strategy:

  1. Build on the strength of the gsk and Sensodyne brand names.
  2. Name the product “Repair and Protect.”  It tells Ms Consumer what the product does!
  3. Develop a gorgeous package (see below).  It incorporated five Fresnel Lenses that were placed over a picture of a tooth.  The teeth become three dimensional and on the shelves of Sainsbury’s, Tescos, Morrisons, etc., the packages looked gorgeous.  With Ms. Consumer’s children saying, “Mummy you have to buy this,” gsk won the ZMOT!

gsk changed the package over the first two years:


The ZMOT Value Curve:


After gsk won the ZMOT they dropped “New” after one year and removed the Fresnel lenses to reduce package cost after year two. They were winning the Second Moment of Truth because Ms Consumer and her family loved the product.

The Package explained what “Repair and Protect” did that other toothpastes could not deliver (see below).

gsk_4_151129Repair and Protect launched in the US

In May, 2012 gsk launched Repair and Protect in the US winning the ZMOT with the same package they had used in the UK.

gsk_5_151129The big disappointment was that the US version of Repair and Protect did not include Novamin (see below):

gsk_7_151129…and the back of the package confirmed its absence.
gsk_6_151129Why no Novamin in the US version of Repair and Protect?

The ADA (American Dental Association) lobbied the FDA to not allow the sale of Repair and Protect in the US and were successful.  It’s most unfortunate, US consumers lost out on a truly  incredible product!

Has gsk stood on their laurels?  No, more product upgrades are being introduced in the UK.

Take a look at them.


Oral Care Performance:

It is difficult to find net sales and gross margin contribution for Sensodyne Repair and Protect.  The following is taken directly from gsk’s 2014 Annual Report:

gsk’s Oral health sales in 2014 grew 4% to £1,797 million. This was driven by strong growth of Sensodyne in Sensitivity and acid erosion which was up 11% and Gum health which grew 11%. In 2014,

Sensodyne maintained its leading position in the sensitive teeth category, and consumption grew ahead of the market in all regions. Growth was seen across both emerging and developed markets with most notable successes in China and North America.  Sensodyne Repair & Protect and Sensodyne Complete were key drivers in this growth.

A combination of strong brand innovation and a successful marketing approach using
dentist testimonials continues to drive the brand’s success.

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4 Responses

  1. Larry McKeogh

    I was recently surprised that my dentist is now doling out free samples of Sensodyne’s Repair & Protect. I’m a convert.

    Key point I liked was the premium they are able to command in the market. Reminds me of other higher end products. E.g. Apple.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Dick Lee

      Larry, you, like your dentist, have been duped by gsk. After our lunch today I dropped into King Soopers and checked out Repair and Protect. Their is only one active ingredient, Stannous Flouride. So gsk is charging a premium price for a product that will do more that Colgate-Palmolive’s TOTAL or P&G’s Crest. The real deal is in the UK where you have Novamin and NaF as active ingredients in Repair and Protect.

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