Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2011 (Revised August 2011)

Colgate-Palmolive: Staying Ahead in Oral Care

by Rebecca M. Henderson and Ryan Johnson


In 2011, Colgate-Palmolive (Colgate) was the global leader in oral care, with a dominant market share lead in toothpaste and a growing presence in toothbrushes and mouthwash. However, the firm faced stiff competition with perennial rivals P&G increasing their focus on the oral care and emerging markets where Colgate had traditionally been untouchable. To defend its lead Colgate attempted to cover all fronts, leveraging brand equity, fostering close relationships with dental professionals, innovating in underutilized markets, using its global network to quickly move products to market and reinvesting steadily in its brand.

Keywords: Innovation Strategy; Brands and Branding; Product Positioning; Distribution Channels; Relationships; Competition; Competitive Advantage; Customization and Personalization; Health Industry;


Henderson, Rebecca M., and Ryan Johnson. "Colgate-Palmolive: Staying Ahead in Oral Care." Harvard Business School Case 311-120, June 2011. (Revised August 2011.)