THE FIRST AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH

CHALLENGE: Design an electric toothbrush at a price point similar to a manual toothbrush 

SERVICES: Insights, Design, Engineering, Prototyping, Sourcing, Manufacturing

AWARDS / PRESS: P&G Healthcare Award; Smart Business

SUCCESS: #1 selling electric toothbrush; Hundreds of millions sold

spinbrush modelmaker small

Above: Behind the scenes, Nottingham Spirk associates had a little fun making the early Spinbrush models.

The Spinbrush electric toothbrush rose to prominence so quickly that it’s easy to forget that all electric toothbrushes used to cost more than $50 and accounted for only a tiny fraction of the market. As the cost of manual toothbrushes approached the $5 retail price point, we were convinced that if we could design an electric toothbrush at a manual price, it would be a runaway hit.

Launching a start-up company around the product, we sold 10 million Spinbrushes in the first year, instantly tripling the electric toothbrush market. Procter & Gamble then acquired the invention for its Crest brand and sales exploded, generating billions of dollars in sales for a new major consumer market.

spin-brush-concepts-final

spinbrush-top-view

THE NEED FOR A LOW-COST ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH

“Five dollars was the magic price point,” John Spirk recounted for Smart Business. Now it could have been $10 but we tested sales at $10, and they dropped like a rock after that. It still would’ve been successful but it would never have been the super product that it was.

“We had to manufacture it for $1.25 — batteries, motors, gearboxes, housings, packaging, shipping, displays. That was a challenge, but we knew it had to be $1.25 because we wanted a 50 percent margin. You’ve got to do that. You can go into a store and say, ‘This is a great product but you have to get a certain percent markup.’ It doesn’t work that way, so you have to have your numbers right."

THE GROWTH OF THE ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH MARKET

“We made power toothbrushes affordable for the country,” Spirk says. “Before we developed the Spinbrush, power toothbrushes were $50 to $100 retail. So we challenged our engineers and designers to come up with a product that would deliver on the performance and still be inexpensive from a manufacturing standpoint.”

Before the Spinbrush was launched, power toothbrushes accounted for 1 percent of the market. Now, they make up around 40 percent, with new entrants to the market, and accompanying accessories, popping up all over the world. 

crest-spinbrush-family in store-1

“What makes you the proudest of the products that you have done? It’s very simple. It’s not because it was a great commercial success; it was because it really lowered the cost of power brushing — and we really changed the way children can brush in America. It put a power toothbrush potentially in the hands of all children and improved oral care in America.”

spinbrush-news

MORE CASE STUDIES

packh20 case study-NS Homepage-1

PACKH20

WATERWEAR PACK TO EASE THE BURDEN OF WATER TRANSPORTATION 

troy-bilt-flex-feature-image

TROY-BILT FLEX

A WHOLE NEW APPROACH TO YARD CARE

cardinal-health-inpower-featured-image

CARDINAL HEALTH INPOWER

A CONNECTED CONSUMER MEDICAL DEVICE TO IMPROVE MEDICATION ADHERENCE RATES

CONTACT US

Learn how Nottingham Spirk can help you design and commercialize your next product innovation.