How that winning smile can be the key to success

08:48, May 24, 2010      

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A good smile is proving to be an important asset for an increasing number of Chinese people struggling to find work in today's ultra-competitive job hunting - and it is giving a welcome boost to the nation's dental market.

Wang Feifei, 31, a sales manager for an international garment company in Shanghai, started planning her career in the fashion industry by perfecting her smile two years before her college graduation.

She now boasts a dazzling array of neat, white gnashers.

"Glance through any fashion magazine and you will see models and celebrities with perfect teeth. It made me realize one of the most important rules in my future industry," she said.

"I spent 10,000 yuan for a procedure called teeth bonding at a State-owned hospital in Shanghai. It's a kind of cosmetic dentistry that helps reshape and contour my teeth. I wore braces for my teeth for 18 months, which was painful. For the first month I could only manage to eat porridge every day."

However, she feels the pain was worth the gain. No longer does she feel the need to cover her mouth when smiling and her face became thinner after the procedure.

Wang said cosmetic dentistry also increased her confidence, something she found crucial when job-hunting. Many of her schoolmates were not unfamiliar with porcelain veneers and dental implants.

"The braces were not all about getting an attractive smile," she said. "Following recommendations from popular Taiwanese beauty icon Barbie Xu, I use a toothpaste made in South Korea that costs me 140 yuan, a mouthwash and Crest's tooth strips to maintain the perfect color of my teeth."

Wang Weide is a senior dentist who has been working for a State-owned hospital in Urumqi in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region for eight years. In his filling cabinet, there is a huge stack of patients' documents, which Wang is current dealing with.

"The number of patients wearing tooth braces has roughly tripled compared with the number in the 1990s," he said. "In the past, most of my patients were teenagers. But, now, young people in their 20s account for a large majority and we also see patients in their 30s even 40s."

According to a survey conducted last year by Zhaopin.com, a human resources service firm based in Beijing, more than 40 percent of respondents said that appearance was very much related to the level of their self-confidence. More than 60 percent of human resources staff said the appearance of job seekers was important.

Peng Yu, an independent human resources consultant, said it was obvious that many companies chose the job candidate with better looks if there was nothing to distinguish between ability.

"If you have a career in communication, sales or marketing, a dazzling smile is essential and it can say a lot about you," he added.

Dental care and cosmetics are a big issue for the growing class of what has been termed China's "forever attractive" - and it is fostering a huge market.

According to a study by Freedonia Group, a leading international industrial research company, demand for oral care products in China is expected to grow 11 percent per year through 2012 to reach 21.5 billion yuan. It is driven by the increasing number of Chinese who are using dental products to improve their appearance and the growing popularity of professional dental care.

Rising personal income levels will make dental products more affordable to consumers while government programs will increase awareness of the benefits of good oral care, the study said.

Cesaralejandro Jaramillo, general manager of Procter & Gamble (P&G) Greater China Oral Care, told China Business Weekly China has become a key market for its products.

"Chinese people's awareness of dental health has greatly improved over the past years. Crest is very devoted to developing dental care products. The focus is on beauty and health for Chinese consumers in big cities and rural areas, young and elderly, respectively," he said.

Most middle-aged or elderly Chinese appear to care more about the health of their teeth so they can use them for longer during their lives, he said. "Young Chinese people pay more attention on how to maintain the regularity and beauty of their teeth."

Jaramillo said: "When we talked to some Chinese consumers, especially the young, they said they were a little frustrated that they all had similar hairstyles and wore standard clothes and make-up. But they are different from their elders who preferred to cover their mouths and hide their smiles. The young want to make themselves very unique and better communicate with other people by smiling openly."

Ken Zhang, P&G manager of professional and scientific relations at Oral Care Asia, said: "The color of your teeth should be the same as the white part of your eyeballs. That is the basic standard for beauty and health of the teeth."

Li Dongtian, one of China's top stylists, said Chinese people, especially young girls, have great enthusiasm for smiling to reveal eight teeth, something they regard as true beauty.

A survey by iResearch showed, on average, Chinese white-collar consumers - the biggest spenders - allocated 13.4 percent of their incomes on cosmetics and clothing, second to housing, on which they spent 39.2 percent.

Jaramillo said young Chinese would be happy to pay as much as they could to improve their appearance - but they needed very specific results. The company opted to undertake a lot of research and development to develop high-end products.

Newly-launched Crest Sparkling White toothpaste is designed to eliminate 80 percent of tooth staining within 14 days. The company's star product Pro-Health toothpaste additionally claims to fight cavities, gingivitis, plaque, over-sensitivity and tartar as well as whitening teeth and freshening breath.

Jonathan C. Myers, general manager of P&G Greater China, said currently the most-wanted dental care products for Chinese consumers were still toothpaste and toothbrushes. He said Crest was making efforts to develop and promote these.

The study by the Freedonia Group also found that toothpaste dominated the consumer dental product segment in China, accounting for 90 percent of the market. However, the fastest growth is anticipated for lower volume products - especially whiteners, floss and dentures, with sales of each growing more than 15 percent annually through 2012.

Zhang said he noticed that many young Chinese used Crest's teeth strips several times a week to whiten their teeth and also power toothbrushes to eliminate stains caused by drinking too much tea and coffee.

"Dental care is a big life-long project and it also needs a comprehensive range of products including toothpaste, floss, mouthwashes and so on," Zhang said.

The market is still growing and can be compared with what happened with the cosmetics industry. In the past, Chinese women only used a bottle of cream for all of their skincare every day. However, they now use different creams for the day and night and additionally use toner and other products.

"It is the same when it comes to dental care," Zhang said. "More people will use multifunctional and connected products."

Source: China Daily


(Editor:黄硕)

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