In the midst of updating its company portfolio, Colgate-Palmolive is leaning on Tom’s of Maine.
Tom’s of Maine, the natural brand that spans toiletries and personal-care products was acquired by Colgate-Palmolive in 2006. On Tuesday, it launched its most extensive product collection in its 50-year history, with 16 items. The line is based on prebiotics. Prebiotics have become a common ingredient for beauty and wellness brands like Tula and Sakara Life. Tom’s of Maine declined to provide sales information, but the brand was called out in Colgate-Palmolive’s fourth-quarter earnings as a “successful growth driver,” particularly in the U.S. and U.K. markets.
“The microbiome trend is big across more than just personal care and beauty,” said Justin Boudrow, Tom’s of Maine personal care brand manager.
While Colgate-Palmolive has seen significant growth in emerging markets, its European and North American markets have not fared as well. Its North American business has suffered in recent quarters, due to price discounting through coupons and a lack of product innovation, according to recent earnings. North America net sales increased 1.5% in the fourth quarter of 2019, but that was still below analyst expectations. Approximately 70% of all of Colgate-Palmolive’s business is outside the U.S.
Noel Wallace, Colgate-Palmolive CEO, said in the fourth-quarter earnings call that Colgate-Palmolive is in the process of elevating its products in the face of changing consumer preferences. In addition to Filorga, the company acquired Hello toothpaste in late January, adding to its 2018 acquisitions of skin-care brands PCA Skin and EltaMD. In January 2019, it also revamped its own Colgate Total toothpaste with a new formula that removed the controversial ingredient triclosan and launched vegan and charcoal toothpaste alongside bamboo toothbrushes and recyclable tubes.
“An emphasis on more natural ingredients has been a key theme in these changes,” said Nathan Richter, Wakefield Research senior partner. “Skin care [through Filorga] is a particularly attractive segment for Colgate-Palmolive, as there is much more room for premium, higher-margin products that are not as feasible in oral care.”
To support its product launch, Tom’s of Maine will have a yearlong campaign focusing on paid advertising on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, and in-store signage that directs customers to text “prebiotic” to a listed number. Upon texting the company, customers will receive a video featuring wellness spokesperson Dr. Amy Shah, where she discusses what prebiotics are and why they are beneficial. It is the first time that Tom’s of Maine is relying on SMS communications in its marketing, said Boudrow. Boudrow noted that this campaign is its largest to date, but declined to disclose the brand’s investment. Colgate-Palmolive has been investing more in advertising, which increased by 13% in the fourth quarter, according to its most recent earnings.
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