Cosmetics chain sparks toothpaste price war

Customers at dm cosmetics shops across Germany have been caught up in a toothpaste price war, after the shops announced they would "strike" over Colgate's decision to sell smaller packages for the same price.

Cosmetics chain sparks toothpaste price war
Photo: DPA

Head for the toothpaste aisle in any dm shop looking for Dentagard and you'll find a little empty spot on the shelf with a note.

“Same price for less contents: we're striking against that! dm.”

The chain says that it's fighting for its customers' interests after Colgate-Palmolive, the producer of Dentagard, decided to start selling the product in 75 ml tubes rather than 100 ml – but to keep charging the same price.

dm chairman Erich Harsch said on Tuesday that “we don't want to pass this price increase on to our customers.”

But a Colgate-Palmolive statement insisted that the multinational would not back down.

“As a producer of consumer goods, it's a normal practice to match the retail prices to increased costs, for example for energy and raw materials,” the company said in a statement.

“It's not usual to talk publicly about our dealings with our retail partners,” the company sniffed.

Armin Valet of Hamburg's Consumer Rights Centre (Verbraucherzentrale) welcomed the dm move, saying that customers often feel exploited by producers' hidden price rises.

“We are not unhappy at all with the fact that a retailer is taking a stand,” Valet said.

Cosmetics shops fear discounters

“The trick of reducing the contests without dropping prices is being used more and more often in retail,” marketing expert Martin Fassnacht of the WHU business school said.

“But it's new for a retailer to explicitly draw attention to the fact that a producer is making the cost/benefit relationship worse.”

Fassnacht said that dm's move could improve its image as an honest business and put pressure on Colgate-Palmolive – not to mention make the chain's own-brand Dontodent toothpaste look more attractive.

In fact, dm's move against Colgate may be prompted by fears of discount supermarket Aldi, which is adding more and more cosmetics products to its ranges and undermining prices.

“Not only classical supermarkets, but also the cosmetics chains have been worrying about [the discounters] for a long time,” Fassnacht said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


German supermarket Aldi sells out of home tests hours after they go on sale

The supermarket chain Aldi started selling home corona tests on Saturday morning, but within hours, many stores reported that their stocks had run dry.

German supermarket Aldi sells out of home tests hours after they go on sale
Customers queue outside Aldi on Saturday morning. Photo: DPA

The budget supermarket made the tests available directly at the check out, with one customer allowed to buy one pack containing five tests.

Many Aldi stores reported that stocks had run out on Saturday morning (March 6th), although resupplies of the tests which cost €25, were reportedly on the way.

Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd announced in advance that the products could be sold out on the first day of sales if demand proved to be very high.

Lidl, another major supermarket chain, started selling the tests via its internet platform also on Saturday, but stocks there also appear to have been booked up. A message on the page asks customers to “please try again at a later time.”

Competitors Rewe and Edeka also want to start selling the tests in the near future, while the drugstore chains Rossmann and dm plan to start sales on Tuesday, March 9th.

On February 24th, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices granted the first special approvals for tests for self-administration at home.

Free rapid tests from next week

On Wednesday (March 3rd) a coronavirus summit between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s 16 federal and state governments decided that every German resident would be able to receive a free “conventional” rapid test, completed by a medical professional starting next week. Drugstore chain DM has already been accepting sign-ups for in-store testing sites.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: This is Germany’s five-step plan to head out of shutdown

Health Minister Jens Spahn had originally announced that free rapid tests would be available to all from March 1st – but this plan has been changed slightly.

In concrete terms, it means at least one rapid test per week will now be offered to people in Germany. It will be carried out by a trained member of staff in test centres or surgeries, for example. 

In addition, according to the plans of the federal and state governments, a joint task force is to be set up to procure tests quickly and cheaply.

How easy is it to test yourself at home?

There’s a big plus for the new rapid DIY tests: the sample with the cotton swab can be taken in the anterior nasal region, so it’s fairly easy to do at home.

The professional rapid tests, on the other hand, collect the sample material far back in the nose or deep in the throat – meaning that a specialist is needed to assist.

No additional laboratory equipment is needed for the rapid tests. The principle is similar to a pregnancy test: after 15 to 20 minutes, test strips indicate whether the patient is coronavirus positive or negative.

The Frankfurt virologist Sandra Ciesek sees few problems with the at-home tests: “I think everyone gets how to do a nasal smear, and if not, there are enough videos to show them how,” she said in the NDR podcast Coronavirus Update.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s new at-home coronavirus tests

However, rapid tests are not as reliable as PCR tests which are analysed in a lab. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), if the result of an antigen test is positive, the person should isolate and contact their doctor or local health department to arrange for a PCR test.

People are also reminded to continue to stick to distance and hygiene rules, even if they have a negative rapid test result.