Foreo is out to innovate the electronic toothbrush—both its function and form—and ultimately to expand beauty to include oral care.
The Swedish prestige beauty brand, founded in 2012, has rolled out its “revolutionary not evolutionary” ISSA to the US, which has landed distribution in Sephora and Net-a-Porter. Indeed, ISSA is a departure from what consumers are used to seeing from an electronic toothbrush.
First there’s its clean, white packaging that encloses a colorful, ergonomic electronic toothbrush made entirely of medical grade silicone, including the head, a departure from nylon bristles most toothbrushes employ. It’s this sleek design on an everyday item that positions Foreo as a lifestyle brand looking to challenge more conventional designs. In mid-2014, for example, Foreo launched Luna, an ergonomic electronic facial cleanser that looks more like a scallop shell than something you’d find in your medicine cabinet.
According to Foreo Senior Marketing Manager Antonius Hanegraaf, “The toothbrush is not a part of beauty, traditionally. From a beauty standpoint there needs to be a shift where dental care is part of the beauty routine and that is the niche we are focusing on.”
Unlike current top selling electronic toothbrush brands, ISSA is designed to be used like a standard non-electric toothbrush. Because the ISSA pulses rather than oscillates, the brushing experience is claimed to be safer than other forms as it eliminates over brushing, a major cause of gum problems.
Antonius added that changing what is essentially a decades-old, well-engrained global experience will be the driving strategy in marketing ISSA. The first electronic toothbrush, The Broxodent, actually was born in Switzerland 60 years ago by Dr. Philippe-Guy Woog, and was originally conceived for those wearing braces and for individuals with oral motor challenges.
“People are used to a very abrasive cleanse,” said Antonius. “They think ‘If I don’t feel it, it doesn’t work.’ This is the paradigm we are trying to break. Silicone is high in friction…and because you use it like a manual toothbrush you create that friction with the silicone on your teeth and it wipes off the biofilm rather than scratching it off like the nylon bristles do, cleaning effectively without being abrasive.”
ISSA is available for both adults and children.
The ISSA Mini is designed for kids over five years old and shares many of the adult version’s features: hypoallergenic silicone, sleek design, but with a smaller body and head. The Mini also has “smile helpers,” two faces that light up to encourage independent brushing. There’s “glee,” a smiling face that lights up when two minutes of brushing have been completed, and “glum,” a frowning face that illuminates when two minutes of brushing hasn’t been completed within a 12 hour period.
ISSA is available in black, lavender, mint and cobalt blue and sells for $199; the Mini is $119. All ISSA brush heads have 3D flexibility; a pause in the pulsations signals users every 30 seconds to switch quadrants and when the two-minute brushing routine is done.
Antonius said ISSA’s choice of distribution partners represents the luxe nature of Foreo’s brands.
“Prestige retail is very important for us. [The retailers we choose] make a statement of being very much tied into the beauty routine and being a premium brand.”
Since ISSA’s Europe debut in fall 2014, “Sales are exceeding our expectations, people love the gentleness, the way it looks. Consumers finally have that choice of great design. The feedback has been amazing especially from first adopters who are open and willing to be educated and are open to new ideas.”
Currently no electronic toothbrush carries a seal by the American Dental Association, although Foreo is working to develop a recognized standard testing procedure for silicone toothbrushes