Getting the most out of your brush

China's overall dental market in 2019 exceeded 100 Billion RMB. Oral care, as an important part of physical health management, has greatly attracted more attention during the pandemic. The demand for oral care continues to advance, and the economic market potential of tooth beauty is evident. According to Nielsen data, the domestic electric toothbrush market with a penetration rate of only about 3% in the first half of 2015 grew to 83.1%. After the rapid growth in recent years, there is still plenty of room left to explore. 

01. From manual to automatic

Human beings have a long history of cleaning their teeth and maintaining oral hygiene.

Toothbrushes made of bamboo and horsetail appeared in the Song Dynasty, which is used with tooth powder made of green salt and medicinal materials. In the West, the method of rubbing teeth with a piece of rag also existed since the Roman era.

In 1938, DuPont replaced natural animal bristles with synthetic fibers and introduced the first nylon toothbrush; then in 1976, DuPont introduced the first ergonomically designed reach toothbrush, laying the foundation for toothbrush design.



In 1937, Motodent launched the first electric toothbrush, and then in 1954, the Swiss-based Broxo S.A. also launched an electric toothbrush.

After years of technological development, in 1992, the first ultrasonic toothbrush Ultrasonex obtained patent and regulatory approval, and began to enter the general consumer market, with types such as rotary vibration, sonic vibration, and ultrasonic vibration.

Today, there are many toothbrush products on the market. With the rapid improvement of consumption level in China, the quality of life is also on the rise, and the concept of oral care has gradually taken root in the hearts of the people. In the fast-growing oral care industry, the electric toothbrush has had an outstanding performance.



02. Electric (Power) growth

After years of consumer education, the electric toothbrush market in developed countries has reached a maturity level. In 2015, the penetration rate of electric toothbrushes in the United States reached 42%, while the penetration rate of electric toothbrushes in China only reached 3%.

Before 2015, the electric toothbrushes in the Chinese market were dominated by foreign brands. Since 2015, technology equipment manufacturers and traditional oral brands have entered the market one after another, driving the consumption upgrade of the oral care market. Among them, the electric toothbrush market has shown "explosive" growth.

According to the Baidu Index, the search popularity of electric toothbrushes climbed to a record high in 2015 and is still going strong today.

Online e-commerce has become one of the main sales channels for electric toothbrushes. According to data, the sales of electric toothbrushes on Taobao platform was worth about RMB1.8 billion in 2017, RMB 3.8 billion in 2018, and about RMB 5.7 billion in 2019, showing exponential growth.

If the market penetration rate increases to 10% in 2021, the market size of electric toothbrushes in China will reach RMB 21 billion.

Behind this rapid growth, the huge boost in lower-tier cities cannot be ignored.

On the Tmall platform in the first quarter of 2019, the number of electric toothbrush consumers in third-and fourth-tier cities and below increased by 228% over the same period last year, which was twice the 114% in first-tier cities, and the growth rate was 1.5 times that of the entire country. The difference in market structure brings more room for growth and opportunities, and the future market potential cannot be underestimated.



03. Domestic electric toothbrushes chipping away

In terms of market share, Philips and Oral B, the early international adopters, have maintained a relatively high market share throughout the year. As Industry concentration has declined and monopoly structure is scattered, market competition is more fierce.

In this context, some local cutting-edge brands have entered the market, and have successfully achieved a strong growth.

Usmile, has established its presence in a full range of oral care products since inception, has conducted a half-year long investigation in the early stage to get deep insight into the consumption and living habits, basic needs, usage scenarios and product selling points.


In 2016, Usmile launched the first electric toothbrush U1, which was different from the products on the market that were mainly in cool and simple colors at the time. By adopting the girlish macaron color style, it mainly targeted young female user group.

In terms of user experience, replacing the inconvenient charging base with a USB interface has gained consumers' support. The concept of "Treat your mouth like skin care " is welcomed by young consumers.

In terms of design, the design of Usmile Y1 "Pillar" was a product of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and LV designers, it won the Golden Pin Design Award, and its industrial design was professionally affirmed.

The cutting-edge brand Soocas, a subsidy of Xiaomi is based on the concept of "designing innovative products and changing lives with details". In 2016, it launched the first Soocas X3 sonic electric toothbrush, with built-in sensors and Bluetooth. The algorithm is independently developed by Xiaomi and can be used with its APP to view data related to brushing. It has won a series of international design awards such as the German Reddot Design Award and the German IF Design Award.

The rapid growth of Soocas can be seen from its core technology. Soocas worked with experts from Germany and Japan to develop a magnetic levitation sonic motor that vibrates up to 40,000 times per minute. Prior to Soocas, this technology was only owned by Philips.

The rise of brands such as Usmile & Soocas shows the value of the new generation of consumer groups, and also displays the competitive model in the era of new consumption and marketing.


04. Fueling the growth

The dividend on the high-speed growth period is gradually fading, and the electric toothbrush market is facing new challenges.

The Report on the Latest Trends in Oral Care Industry in 2020 shows that the growth of electric toothbrushes is mainly driven by price. New categories such as dental floss, mouthwash, and dental flushers are emerging. Niche categories such as toothpowder, toothpicks, oral sprays, oral beads are also appearing in the eyes of consumers.  
Among them, children's electric toothbrush may become a new important growth point. 

#Children's electric toothbrush
Survey results of the fourth national oral health epidemiology released in 2017 showed that changes in eating habits have led to an increase of oral diseases in children, up from 26.7% in 2007 to 34.5% in 2017.

The key word "children" ranked first in searches for oral care on Douyin in 2021.

Data shows that the market growth rate of children's sonic electric toothbrushes in recent years has increased by more than 64% year-on-year.

In terms of sales structure, children's electric toothbrushes accounted for 8%, with a year-on-year increase of 82%, reflecting the decrease in age of the oral care demand group and the need for further expansion.

In addition to electric toothbrushes, many other categories of oral care have great potential, and the market will be further subdivided.


In 2019, the sales of mouthwash and tooth powder on the Ali platform increased by 50% compared with 2018. Meanwhile, mouthwash products accounted for 10.97% of the global oral care industry market in 2019, and only 1.45% in China, which leaves huge potential growth space.

Inspired by cherry blossom in Wuhan, "Love SODA" mouthwash, a Spring 2021 new product of HUGGAH, a cutting-edge oral care brand, in cross-border cooperation with Hankow Erchang won the 2021 Meiyi Awards TOP · Oral Care Award.



Another cutting-edge brand engaged in oral care is Canban. Based on a large number of market analysis and user research, it has come to the recognition that mouthwash is a great FMCG.  It launched the mouthwash series products in October last year, and the immediate monthly sales exceeded RMB 50 million, and the cumulative 80-day sales after the launch exceeded RMB 100 million.

#Mouth freshener (balls)

In the pandemic era, safety, healthy, and portability have become the key words in consumer demand.
Mouth freshener (balls) not only solve the needs for quick and continuous fresh breath, but also meet the needs of the current fast-paced and diversified scenes.

Among the new products released by HUGGAH, the mouth freshener (balls) can keep the breath fresh, which contains the super concentrated chewing essence with mouthwash, fitting the life style of young people. HUGGAH also co-created with supply chain companies to solve the problem of developing seamless soft capsules that burst at one bite. 


With the improvement of living standards and health awareness, emerging electronic cleaning products represented by electric toothbrushes still have huge space for growth in the large oral health market. Oral care products, including electronic toothbrushes, will also be refined, and personalized in this "skin care era". Thanks to the development of medical science, consumer-grade products not only meet basic consumer needs such as fresh breath and teeth whitening, but also focus on the expansion of medical channels, covering all-round consumption scenarios such as home life, travel portability, and oral medicine.