Understanding Buyer Intention: What do consumers search for when buying electric toothbrushes?
Health-tech is in.
Our analysis of over 37 million searches for 434 identified key phrases around electric toothbrushes over a year (Feb 2019–Feb 2020) revealed that interest has been growing at a gentle pace and spikes during the Black Friday holiday sale (the search volume increases by two to three times).
This interest has been consistently increasing for the last five years, with a proportionate spike during the holiday season each year, and is not reflected in other product categories of personal care or smart devices.
In an effort to demystify this consumer, the research team at Quilt.AI analysed data extracted across search engines, e-commerce sites, blogs and social media platforms to understand the consumer discourse around electric toothbrushes and the different user segments.
The study classified the searches into six clusters based on the key phrases:
With 65% of the volume of searches, these consumers are trying to learn about features offered by the various brands of electric toothbrushes. These generic searches are dominated by the established brands such as Philips Sonicare and Oral-B, while the interest in new brands such as Quip and Waterpik is rapidly increasing.
12% of the searches were more specific and included comparisons of different brands, the differences between electric and manual toothbrushes, etc. These searches can be understood as consumers trying to find an edge or a reason that will help them make a purchase decision.
10% of searches consisted of consumers looking for tips on how to clean and maintain electric toothbrushes. “Electric toothbrush battery’,” “Sonicare heads’,” and ‘“Oral-B toothbrush charger” were some of the search phrases in this category.
This category, with search terms such as “Kids electric toothbrush”, “electric toothbrush braces” and “electric toothbrush receding gums” formed 6% of the search volume, reflect consumers searching for the best fitting electric toothbrush for their or their families’ specific requirements (sensitive gums, children with braces, etc.).
Unsurprisingly, 2% of the search volume consisted of people looking for best deals on electric toothbrushes.
Electric toothbrushes are known to be bulky, which has led to growing consumer interest in finding portable ones. These searches, coupled with people looking for added capabilities such as flossing and timers, constituted 3% of the total search volume.
Our research team also looked at the rate at which these different clusters of searches are growing, and found that softer research, with consumers looking for new innovative solutions and usage experiences, is the highest growing category of searches, with a 440 percent increase during the period.
Explorers grew at 171 percent, with an increased growth in the interest in new brands such as Quip; everyday use queries regarding replacement parts and batteries grew at 53 percent, and searches related to charging grew at the rate of 38 percent.
This intensive study of search data is indicative of how consumer interest is growing year on year, and also reveals interesting nuances in how the consumer is looking for specific information about how the electric toothbrush looks, feels, and travels, and whether it is the right fit for his/her individual needs.
The experience of an electric toothbrush
Our team studied 4,000 recent verified consumer reviews from a US-based e-commerce portal with our proprietary Culture AI tool to classify these reviews into positive and negative experiences. We arrived at these few experience groups:
Hygiene: Redefining Clean
These reviews highlight the superior cleaning capabilities of the electric toothbrush and use expressions such as “can go where other toothbrushes cannot go,” “the kind of cleaning one feels when you’ve had a dental cleaning,” and “it has a number of settings from sensitive to whitening”.
Pleasure: Transforming a chore
For children and many adults alike, brushing their teeth twice a day is a chore involving manual labor. These categories of reviews highlight how electric toothbrushes transform this boring activity into a pleasurable one. “It makes my gums feel great,” “This thing feels like a massage for my mouth,” and “I bought it for my kid and it’s motivating and cleaning better” are some of the ways the consumers express their delight.
Everyday: Ease of use and thoughtful design
The electric toothbrushes are comfortable in the hand with their small, easy-to-use grips and long necks that help them reach deep inside. For consumers, this experience of comfort and elegant design is very important. In addition, consumers find the lightweight, compact design with sleek packaging very helpful for their extremely mobile lifestyles.
Enhanced: A mini ‘life upgrade’
“I love the five different modes and the timer,” “It’s nice to have the extra motivation of the timer and the Bluetooth syncing with the smartphone app,” and “love the Bluetooth so I can sync it with my iPhone” are some of the ways the customers express their delight in the life-elevating change brought about by the electric toothbrush.
The customizable options such as timers, various cleaning modes and even brush heads empower the consumer with a satisfying sense of control.
Some Bristle-y Woes…
But, as the analysis of negative reviews reveal, the American consumer’s experience with electric toothbrushes has not always been rosy.
While the price remains a major concern for many (especially first-time buyers), the hassle of maintenance — regular changing of batteries, replacement of brush heads, charging and cleaning — unpredictable hardware failures and the inability to fix these breakdowns at home, and occasional physical injury such as bleeding gums disappoint users.
In the US market, as per consumer reviews, Philips Sonicare and Oral-B are considered high-end brands with powerful cleaning abilities and smart device capabilities, but are also seen as premium expensive brands with bulky design.
Quip and Burst are considered modern and sleek in design, and travel friendly, but not powerful enough for deep cleaning. Colgate is considered an affordable brand with good value for money, compact and travel friendly, but is also deemed to be of lower quality.
Segmenting the different electric toothbrush consumers
We used a sample set of 10,000 Twitter and Instagram profiles of current owners of electric toothbrushes and conducted an AI analysis of the extracted data to segment the audience into psychographic groups based on what consumers were posting and how they were describing themselves.
These consumers can be segmented into five types:
Style Explorers: These people are willing to pay a premium price as long as their specific individual needs are met. Essentially, a customizable smart electric toothbrush that can effectively clean, and bring about an immediately noticeable change is the product of their choice.
Life Optimizers: Life Optimizers are experience driven and share their experiences of products via extensive reviews. Electric toothbrushes must enable them to optimize their brushing habits — to clean better and smarter. They are fit, tech savvy, endorse established fashion brands, and appreciate smart services.
Adults in the making: Young adults in America are very keen to showcase that they are taking ownership of their lives; purchasing an electric toothbrush is a conscious adult choice as they begin to build a new identity in their professional lives. These young men and women are price conscious and would possibly wait for a lucrative offer to purchase an electric toothbrush.
Nurturers: These consumers are parents who work very hard to provide the best for their families and believe in inculcating good healthy habits in their children from a young age. As parents who’re big on making sure their children are exposed to only the best and safest, they try out the electric toothbrush themselves before purchasing for their children. They choose electric toothbrushes as they clean their kids’ teeth thoroughly and are easy and comfortable and easy for children to use by themselves. Reliability, reasonable price and durability are key virtues in brands for these parents.
Curator Moms: In comparison to the nurturers, curator moms are more style conscious and actively look for ways to upgrade their homes and lives. They believe electric toothbrushes are a fun way to ensure the oral health of their children.
For related work on hipster toothbrushes, check out this blog, where we analysed Quip with our Culture AI.