Colgate delights people with innovative products that meet their needs, exceed their expectations and add value to their lives. Our six consumer innovation centers rely on local insights from around the world to launch more than 600 new products and product updates every year.
To ensure that the products we develop are placed in stores, Colgate is committed to listening to and engaging with existing and potential users and buyers around the world. To ensure that our commercial teams stay close to the users of our products, we undertake “Getting Out of the Office” programs that help build our deep understanding of local tastes and habits across categories. In Latin America we hosted a Dermafest, which included interviews with women to understand their needs and emotions behind beauty and skin care products and to assist in the design thinking and co-creation of ideas. This provided key insights to identify unmet user needs and opportunities for existing product performance improvements.
Stronger consumer engagement begins with better insights. Deeper and more meaningful people and cultural insights strengthen product development, packaging, and the communications we deliver through our integrated marketing campaigns.
We also listen to consumer feedback on our products. Colgate’s Consumer Affairs personnel act as consumer advocates, representing their perspectives and their challenges within the organization. Colgate’s marketing executives regularly listen to consumer calls so they can get closer to consumers’ wants and needs, and ensure company activities are designed to meet them.
Colgate’s Consumer Affairs departments manage consumer relations around the world, covering 96 percent of Colgate’s business. This team strives to provide the very best consumer care to make it easy for people to reach the Company, have their messages heard and problems solved.
Each year, we work to increase our consumer support coverage and accessibility, via new or centralized contact centers where we optimize the latest consumer service tools and training so every person contacting us has the very best individualized experience. In many parts of the world, people can now engage with us via the communication channels that are most accessible and convenient for them - whether via traditional methods, such as phone calls, or via newer, real-time methods such as social media, chat, and mobile messaging.
Our team regularly captures, evaluates, and responds to people who leave ratings and reviews on our website and various e-commerce sites, so we can ensure we are always in touch with any feedback people have about our products. As artificial intelligence technology is rapidly developing, we are constantly looking for ways to leverage it to enhance and extend our support programs.
There is increasing attention being given to concerns over consumer data protection and privacy. We know that when consumers provide us with personal information, we have to safeguard it and treat it responsibly. We are very careful about how we collect, use, and store personal data, and have recently updated our policies, making them readily available on our websites around the world. Our policy can be viewed here.
In addition, we regularly monitor key performance indicators for service in several regions around the world. In 2018, 86 percent of consumers reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with our service.
Innovation Driving Market Share Growth
In Mexico, new Fabuloso Complete multi-benefit liquid cleaner added 3.0 market share points in 2018, strengthening the brand’s market-leading position in the category.
Partnering With Vets to Provide Hill’s To Home Convenience For Pet Parents
Hill’s Prescription Diet pet food is only available with a veterinarian’s recommendation and is primarily sold through veterinary clinics. To make this valuable product more accessible and convenient, Hill’s created an innovative Hill’s To Home e-commerce service in the U.S. so vets can offer free home delivery, subscription discounts and, importantly, continued engagement to ensure ongoing care.
Tom’s of Maine has become a ‘Certified B Corporation,’ with the non-profit B Lab, making the company part of an elite group of businesses that meet higher levels of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Tom’s of Maine is one of a select number of natural personal care companies to become a Certified B Corporation. Through this accreditation, Tom’s of Maine publicly commits to upholding a purpose-driven business and supporting a global economy that benefits all.
Product sustainability at Colgate means a continued commitment to safe, sustainable, high-quality products that consumers can trust. As part of our 2020 Sustainability Strategy, we are committed to increasing the sustainability profile in all new products. Consumers increasingly purchase products that both meet their needs and have a social impact and reduced environmental footprint. At Colgate, we are working to meet that expectation by:
Driving Sustainability Through Our Product Categories
We continue to implement product category sustainability strategies that align with and support our 2015 to 2020 Sustainability Strategy.
Improving the Product Sustainability Profile of Our Products
Teams across the Colgate world collaborate to develop products with improved sustainability profiles. Opportunities to improve product sustainability are considered throughout the product development process by multiple functions (from formulation to packaging). Annually, we apply the criteria in our product sustainability scorecard to the new products we plan to launch.
Delivering Safe and Sustainable Ingredients
Colgate remains committed not only to making safe products, but also to making those products with ingredients and processes that have minimal impact on the world around us.
Providing Access to Affordable Products
We continue to expand access to affordable health and wellness products for millions of people in underserved communities.
Driving Sustainability Through Our Categories
Colgate is embedding sustainability across our Oral Care category. Our products and oral health education programs improve oral health around the world and help reduce cavities, one of the most chronic global diseases. We also promote water conservation awareness to consumers, encouraging them to turn off the faucet when brushing their teeth. We are improving the ingredient sustainability profile of our products, removing PVC from toothbrush packaging, and reducing the environmental footprint of our oral care factories.
Colgate is also making improvements in our Personal Care category, from improving ingredient biodegradability and moving toward more sustainable preservative systems to optimizing packaging size and improving packaging recyclability. We are educating millions of children and their families around the world about the importance of handwashing with soap, and are also working to reduce our carbon and water footprint.
In our Home Care category, Colgate is increasing the use of recycled and recyclable plastics in our packaging and improving the ingredient sustainability profile of our products, including eliminating formaldehyde donors and reducing volatile organic compounds to improve air quality. We are also helping consumers save energy and water with our cleaning products.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition is working to source its ingredients responsibly, reduce its operational footprint, and provide pet food to shelters at a discount to help millions of dogs and cats find their forever homes. Hill’s is also leading the way to Working Towards Zero Waste at Colgate. The first four “Zero Waste to Landfill” factories are Hill’s factories. Today, 100% of Hill’s dry pet food is produced at a Zero Waste to Landfill plant.
Colgate’s Product Sustainability Scorecard is intended to measure the progress of our goals to increase the sustainability in our products by 2020. Our product sustainability key performance indicators are focused on three areas: Packaging, Formula and Social Impact. Through cross-functional collaboration across the Colgate world, we continue to make progress and improved the sustainability profile in over 96 percent of new products in 2018(1).
1 The performance results are based on representative products from the product portfolio evaluated against comparable Colgate products across three impact areas to characterize likely improvement in the sustainability profile, based on review of quantitative and qualitative data.
2018 Product Highlights
Product Safety and Quality
We continuously monitor and evaluate the safety of our ingredients, and we actively engage with outside experts and resources to understand emerging science and deepen our knowledge. We also comply with all aspects of the European Union’s REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemical substances). To learn more about the science behind our products, please visit Scientific Excellence section of our website, and learn more about our Ingredient Safety Policy and progress updates, please visit the Ingredient Safety section.
Product Safety Testing
Colgate has a longstanding policy to minimize and ultimately eliminate animal testing associated with development of oral care, personal care, and home care products. Central to this commitment are our 35-year-long efforts to encourage the development of alternatives that are scientifically valid and can be accepted by scientific regulators.
We are a leader in promoting, encouraging, and participating in the development, validation, and acceptance of non-animal testing methods worldwide, investing more than $1 million dollars annually on research with non-animal alternatives. Globally, there are circumstances when regulatory agencies require animal testing of oral care, personal care, and home care products. In such limited instances, the tests are conducted at external testing facilities that meet strict government standards and the rigorous requirements that were established by Colgate with input from animal welfare groups. We work closely with worldwide regulatory agencies to examine how non-animal tests can be incorporated into their safety requirements for consumer products. In addition, we support the European Partnership for Alternative to Animals, the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, and the Institute for In Vitro Science which are organizations that are focused on developing and/or promoting the use of non-animal methods.
Colgate actively shares its work to reduce animal use and develop alternatives so that this information can help others minimize animal use. Colgate is also a strong supporter of education in this field and partners with the Society of Toxicology to provide grants for student internships, post-doctoral fellowships and research grants to further promote the field of alternatives to animal research.
Hill’s uses only non-invasive, humane research methods to develop superior nutritional technology so that dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives. Importantly, Hill’s believes that any procedure that causes pain to people also causes pain to animals and therefore, is not permitted. Hill’s does not create or simulate disease conditions in animals and does not conduct a study where euthanasia is the end point. Hill’s breakthroughs in pet nutrition are unmatched in the pet food industry, and it has built its business and reputation on always practicing the highest ethical standards. Hill’s publishes its animal welfare policy on its website, which governs all studies they conduct or support.
Currently, more than 99 percent of internal requests for safety assessments of Colgate’s products are addressed by using available databases and non-animal alternatives. We look forward to the day when all necessary safety studies for oral care, personal care, and home care products can be performed without the use of animals. We will continue our unwavering efforts toward the development, validation, and scientific and regulatory acceptance of alternative non-animal methods of product safety research, while remaining steadfast in our commitment to the highest standards of product safety for our consumers. For more information on our Product Safety Research Policy and other policies, visit our website.
Our business is subject to extensive legal and regulatory requirements in the U.S. and abroad. Such legal and regulatory requirements apply to most aspects of our products, including their development, ingredients, manufacture, packaging, labeling, storage, transportation, distribution, export, import, advertising, sales and environmental impact. U.S. federal authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”), the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency, regulate different aspects of our business, along with parallel authorities at the state and local levels and comparable authorities overseas.
We recognize consumers want to know more about the ingredients in the products they use. Colgate continues to be an active participant in SmartLabel™, a digital platform co-created by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in conjunction with manufacturers and retailers developed to inform consumers about what’s in their products and why. SmartLabel provides a wide range of product details that cannot fit on a package label. It goes beyond the label to tell consumers not just what ingredients are included in their products; it explains what those ingredients are, why they are in the product, and what they do. SmartLabel was designed to match how people use information and technology today. Thus, consumers can access SmartLabel at home and on-the-go, while creating a shopping list on their phone or when making a purchase decision in the store.
Colgate participates in SmartLabel in the U.S. and Canada. The program continues to grow and today more than 40 companies and 825 brands participate in this program.
Colgate’s packaging organization regularly evaluates materials, processes, and delivery systems that can improve the sustainability profile of our packages. Colgate’s packaging sustainability strategy centers around the following actions:
- Minimizing the volume and weight of our packaging required to label and protect our products
- Using recycled content and evaluating new materials and sources
- Designing products for recyclability and materials reduction while ensuring product integrity
- Assessing the human health and environmental impact of our packaging
- Expanding refill package systems in product categories where feasible
- Collaborating to inspire, incentivize, and educate people on recycled content and recyclability
- Supporting innovative efforts to improve local recycling systems
Information on our work to exit PVC, improve recyclability, increase recycled content, and minimize weight and volume of packaging follows.
We are committed to exiting PVC by 2020. Historically our most significant use of PVC has been the toothbrush blister package. Currently, we have eliminated PVC in more than 99 percent of our packaging by weight. In addition, we have developed plans to exit remaining uses of PVC such as shrink sleeves, labels, and pouches.
In Asia, we replaced PVC shrink wrap with an alternative recyclable wrap, replacing approximately 5 tons/yr.
Colgate is committed to improving the recyclability of our packaging and we target to achieve:
- 100% recyclable packaging in personal care, home care, and pet nutrition by 2020
- 100% recyclable packaging for all categories, to include breakthrough innovation in oral care packaging by 2025
As of year-end 2018, approximately 83 percent of our packaging by weight is recyclable in personal care, home care and pet nutrition. When oral care packaging is added, our packaging recyclability company-wide is 77%, excludes our recently acquired skin care businesses PCA Skin and EltaMD.
Over 200 projects are underway in each category that we expect will transform our packaging portfolio in 2019 and 2020. For example, we are transitioning from opaque to clear PET bottles, redesigning multi-material films and improving recyclability of dispensing systems.
We are rolling out the implementation of shrink sleeves with perforated tear tabs, and we direct consumers to remove the sleeve at end of use to improve bottle recycling. We continue to focus on achieving breakthrough innovation in new shrink sleeve technology and pressure-sensitive label systems that are preferred by recycling facilities.
Colgate’s Palmolive Oxy Dishwash bottles use a recyclable PET shrink sleeve with washable inks, making it easier to recycle. It was recently showcased by the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) in the U.S. as an Innovation in Plastics Recycling. The showcase identifies, highlights, and commends the industry’s leading innovations developed by APR member companies that support the growth of plastics recycling.
INCREASE RECYCLED CONTENT
Colgate’s 2020 goal is to increase recycled content in our packaging to 50 percent on average. As of year-end 2018, approximately 42 percent of our packaging materials are from recycled sources. While this number has remained flat as compared to 2017, plans for procurement of more recycled content are in place and being implemented to meet our 2020 goal.
In Latin America, we increased recycled content in PET bottles to 50% (from 0% and 25%) in four types of bottles.
In Asia, we transformed two carton systems to recycled board.
MINIMIZE WEIGHT AND VOLUME
As part of our Funding the Growth initiatives, Colgate has long been minimizing the volume and weight of our packaging. We strive to use the minimum amount of packaging required to label and protect our products. We recognize the importance of reducing waste at every stage of the product life-cycle, including at the end-of-use of our products and packaging. Read more on our programs to collect packaging waste and our commitment to work with stakeholders to drive continuous improvement in local recycling systems, see Reducing Consumer Waste.
In Italy, our personal care team reduced the weight of our Palmolive Naturals Liquid Hand Soap 750ml bottle and saved 12 metric tons of plastic per year.
In Turkey, we eliminated the overwrapper used to pack bottles of Palmolive Shower Gel 750ml saving 13 tons of plastic per year.
In Poland, we reduced the film thickness and weight of the cap on our Colgate toothpaste tube, reducing plastic consumption by 13 tons per year.
South Africa eliminated the cap used in Sta Soft 500ml stand-up pouches, reducing their yearly plastic consumption by 18 tons.
In Mexico, we designed a new bottle for Suavitel Complete 800ml, resulting in the reduction of 850 tons of plastic per year.
- COLGATE-PALMOLIVE JOINS ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION’S NEW PLASTICS ECONOMY INITIATIVE, reflecting the company’s commitment to 100% recyclability of packaging across all its product categories and its target to achieve 25% recycled content in all plastic packaging by 2025.
- COLGATE-PALMOLIVE COMMITS TO RECYCLABILITY OF PLASTICS IN ALL PACKAGING, as part of its commitment to protect our environment, Colgate-Palmolive has committed to 100 percent recyclability of plastics in packaging across all its product categories by 2025. The company has already made significant progress in advancing its 2020 packaging sustainability goals, and currently 98 percent of its packaging is PVC-free.
- COLGATE-PALMOLIVE JOINS THE RECYCLING PARTNERSHIP and PEPSICO FOUNDATIONS RECYCLING CHALLENGE, ALL IN ON RECYCLING. Colgate has targeted 100 percent recyclability of its packaging and 25 percent recycled content in all plastic packaging by 2025.
- The Consumer Goods Forum announced that 250 companies, including Colgate-Palmolive, have committed to reducing plastic waste and are supporting the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy Global Vision, drawing a #LineIntheSand. C-P is also signed the EPA’s America Recycles Day Pledge. In other recycling news, Colgate UK announced a new partnership with Terracycle, providing solutions for Oral Care recycling in the region.
- Colgate-Palmolive also signed the EPA’s America Recycles Day Pledge. In other recycling news, Colgate UK announced a new partnership with Terracycle, providing solutions for Oral Care recycling in the region.
- Washable Ink Shrink Sleeve (WISS) Shrink Sleeve on Palmolive Oxy Dishwash Bottles was recognized by The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), as one of the industry’s leading innovations, supporting the growth of plastics recycling.
Product sustainability at Colgate also means a commitment to providing affordable product options in our portfolio. We have a 2020 goal to expand access to affordable health and wellness products for millions of people in underserved communities. We make products more affordable while maintaining quality with smaller sizes, refill packages, and value options. We distribute our products broadly to give more consumers access to Colgate products. Offerings are customized to best reach consumers within their socioeconomic level, available household income and specific consumer needs. We are finding ways to offer the benefits of more premium products at affordable price points.
Globally, we strategically balance Colgate’s portfolio between base and premium tiers as appropriate for the region. This starts with consumer panels and research that gives us an in-depth understanding of consumers. We partner with hundreds of thousands of retail stores to sell Colgate products around the world. Treating all retail customers with fairness and integrity is a priority. We engage our customers worldwide by sharing unique shopper insights, providing innovative in-store marketing communications and merchandising techniques, and developing and executing joint business planning initiatives.
These activities ensure the right product assortment at each location and help to make shopping a consumer- friendly, enjoyable experience that drives increased sales for both Colgate and the retailer. Many people around the world do not have access to basic dental care and education. As a leading provider of oral care products, Colgate has the unique ability to address this major social issue and to improve the oral health of families around the world. In Ghana, toothpaste use as part of a healthy oral care habit remains a challenge. High costs and rural distribution remain important hurdles to address. Colgate introduced a small and affordable toothpaste sachet, Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection 3 Gram, for Ghanaian consumers as a basic toothpaste to prevent tooth aches and holes in the teeth. Priced at 20Gp per sachet, this dental cream comes with the same quality as other Colgate products, encouraging rural dwellers to choose Colgate toothpaste as the preferred choice for oral care.
Partnering with Customers
We partner with hundreds of thousands of retail stores to sell Colgate products around the world. Treating all retail customers with fairness and integrity is a priority. We engage our customers worldwide by sharing unique shopper insights, providing innovative in-store marketing communications and merchandising techniques, and developing and executing joint business planning initiatives. These activities ensure the right product assortment at each location and help to make shopping a consumer- friendly, enjoyable experience that drives increased sales for both Colgate and the retailer.
To ensure continued success, we track retailer satisfaction in 20 of Colgate’s largest subsidiaries every two years. The Company participates in a widely used industry standard syndicated survey run by the Advantage Group. The objective is to measure our customer engagement with the goal of strengthening our performance across key markets, building robust action plans based on the survey feedback.
Colgate also partners with key customers to advance our mutual sustainability goals. We often partner with retailers to engage consumers with programs such as our Bright Smiles, Bright Futures oral health education program, Operation Smile, and TerraCycle®.
- Colgate continues to partner with eco-innovator TerraCycle® in five markets, including the U.S, Australia, New Zealand, U.K., and China. TerraCycle® recycles and “upcycles” oral care packaging collected at schools, stores, and other locations into new and affordable eco-friendly products. Through this partnership, in 2018, more than 48,000 locations engaged in recycling, helping us divert nearly 9 million pieces of waste from landfills. Participating locations are able to raise funds for schools and charities of their choice as an incentive for recycling.
- To engage consumers to recycle Colgate oral care packaging, Colgate and TerraCycle® partnered with both ShopRite and Meijer stores in 2018 to run recycled playground giveaways. In-store displays drove awareness of the Colgate Oral Care recycling program and publicized a contest for schools to compete to win a playground made from recycled toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. To date, Colgate has made 16 recycled donations consisting of playgrounds, gardens, and park furniture to communities in the United States.
- C-P Italy was recognized for its innovative and environmentally-sustainable packaging solutions for Ajax and Fabuloso by CONAI's Call for Prevention competition. The National Packaging Consortium awards the most innovative and environmentally-sustainable packaging solutions in the Italian market.
- JieZhong, the innovative start-up between Colgate-Palmolive and ZhongAn Insurance, an online insurance technology company, has introduced a customizable digital platform for consumers to link oral care with health insurance for better outcomes and potential savings. Colgate Smile Club is an app-enabled marketplace that offers the Colgate Connect E1 smart toothbrush and subscriptions to an array of premium Colgate oral care products, together with customized oral care insurance products from ZhongAn. Colgate and ZhongAn aim to increase awareness among Chinese consumers of the importance of good oral health habits to prevent dental problems.
- Hill's Prescription Diet, our line of premium, therapeutic products, is only available with a veterinarian’s recommendation and primarily sold through clinics. To make this valuable product more accessible and convenient, Hill's created an innovative ‘Hill’s to Home’ eCommerce service in the US so vets can offer free home delivery, subscription discounts and, importantly, continued engagement to ensure ongoing care.
- In the UK, the new Colgate Magik™ Toothbrush uses augmented reality games -- the first manual toothbrush to visibly track brushing technique. In France, Colgate® Connect M1 is the first connected brush with artificial intelligence and our first Direct-to-Consumer offering in Europe.