Today, we’re talking about toothbrushes here in the Quilt office. Someone in the office commented that we “expect too much out of toothbrushes today”, talking about how electric toothbrushes weren’t a thing until recently.
Once just an object of pure functional purpose, newer brands today are offering added features for convenience and aesthetics as well. The humble toothbrush has been subject to being made hipster. We see variants like charcoal toothbrushes, bamboo toothbrushes and…subscription box toothbrushes.
We stumbled upon the last one by pure chance. On a quest to investigate what the latest developments were in the hipster oral hygiene world, we typed in the search term ‘hipster toothbrush’ into Google search. The first buzzfeed article directed us to a brand called Quip. Right below that, we saw the Quip website. And below that, we found a headline labelling Quip the “Tesla of Toothbrushes”.
Curiosity piqued, we clicked on all three links. Here’s what we saw:
The Hipster Toothbrush is colourful, but strategically so.
Quip has a whole different toothbrush aesthetic. The toothbrush came in colours like rose gold, metallic silver, gold, and black. Colours you’d expect on a macbook or iPhone. Instead of pairing the typical white plastic with ordinary toothbrush colours like green, blue, red and orange, colours with connotations of sleekness and luxury are used.
Making it classy
Quip has both electric toothbrushes and regular toothbrushes. And while we’re used to seeing round, tubular bodies for electric toothbrushes, it’s not that common to see this shape in regular toothbrushes. Quip however, adopts the tubular design for both. This gives the regular toothbrush a more luxurious, expensive feel to it.
A Toothbrush that thinks for you
Most interestingly, we observed that Quip’s products do the thinking for you. In a typical morning wash-up routine, we can’t actually afford to zone out that much when standing by the sink brushing our teeth. We still need to save some amount of brainpower to figure out when to stop brushing one side, or when to stop altogether so that we don’t overdo it and get sore, irritated gums.
Quip does this for the user. Their toothbrushes have a 2-minute timer (the optimum time we should spend brushing our teeth) with pulses every 30 seconds to nudge the user to switch to brushing a different quadrant of the mouth. Instead of having to think of when to brush a different section or how long to brush one’s teeth for, Quip’s users will only need to tell their brains to react to triggers given by the toothbrush.
In today’s age of digital convenience, instead of shelving events as memory points in our minds, we add events to our online calendars and set alerts to remind us of these events 30 minutes before they start.
The grunt work of remembering is entrusted to a device, and in exchange, we accept having these devices tell us what to do. Arguably, this makes them the digital version of a naggy parent, one that keeps us punctual for both personal and professional life events.
Quip solidifies its status as one of these Nanny Devices by offering a subscription service. It delivers a brush head, battery and toothpaste refills every three months, which is the recommended time to swap out our toothpaste products (often, also something a lot of us are too lazy to do).
Calculating the rate of change in volume of searches for Quip over a 1 year period, we saw that search interest in the brand has been growing at a rate of 60% from 2018 to 2019.
Is the Nanny Device too good to be true?
People online are visibly upset at the toothbrush not being helpful enough in doing the brush work for them.
Looking at Quip’s Amazon product reviews, we found that while conceptually, people were impressed with what Quip was saying it did, there were negative reviews stating that the toothbrushes do not do their job well.
We see angry reviews talking about how the vibration does not feel strong enough, and how it does not help to clean teeth sufficiently. A central theme in the bad reviews is how Quip does not do a good job at being a functional electric toothbrush. Most memorably, a one star review called it “simply a gimmick” and a “millennial quick cash cow”.
Tough Times for the Toothbrush?
The Modern Toothbrush of the 2020s leads a difficult life- it is expected to be both brush and brusher. It also has to look good and not feel too cheap (nevermind that toothbrushes are categorically inexpensive toiletries at their core).
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