When was the last time you replaced your toothbrush?
Seriously, think about it for a moment. When was it? Chances are, it was a while ago – or you just now remembered you should probably get it replaced.
Annabel Hurman knows what that’s like. Which is why she’s just launched her toothbrush delivery service, Freshbrush. “It’s answering that problem of replacing toothbrushes not being something people remember.”
For $32 per year (plus $6.90 for shipping, for a total of $38.90), subscribers have a new toothbrush mailed to them each month. Coming in at less than $3 per toothbrush, that’s less than buying a new toothbrush costs at many supermarkets and pharmacies. The price is the same, Hurman says, regardless of where in New Zealand a subscriber lives.
But the benefits don’t end there. Freshbrush toothbrushes are made with bamboo instead of plastic, meaning the body of the toothbrush (not the bristles) can be composted. Hurman says that makes them more environmentally friendly. She says the toothbrushes themselves come from a Chinese supplier that works closely with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). She also says Freshbrush is the only toothbrush delivery service in Aotearoa that she’s aware of.
Freshbrush is of course far from the only subscription model business out there. The Dollar Shave Club delivers razors and other personal grooming products straight to consumers by mail.
WineFriend customers subscribe online and have cases of wine delivered direct to their homes monthly or every two months. There’s also The One Art Club, which sends members a limited edition artwork every two months, with every delivery a complete surprise thanks to its “lucky dip” approach. And of course there’s My Food Bag, which provides curated ingredients for customers to make food themselves.
“The interest has been really positive so far. Not many supermarkets provide an eco-friendly option.”
A variety of toothbrush-themed art, from Fraser Chatham, was on display for the dozens of people who packed into The Botanist in Auckland’s CityWorks Depot. There were also healthy, tooth-friendly snacks, like salmon on fresh bread. Also on hand was Previously Unavailable founder and principal James Hurman, who happens to be Annabel Hurman’s husband. He said it was fantastic to be involved with Freshbrush because of the need it filled. “It has been a remarkably smooth process,” he said. “This is a real example of where we’ve taken it [a product] out to market quickly. To take advantage of something, we need to move quickly.”
Whether or not Freshbrush takes off remains to be seen, as other subscription-based companies have seen mixed success. WineFriend and The One Art Club are still in their early stages. Earlier this year, Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club for US$1 billion. That company’s model is similar to Freshbrush, and like Freshbrush also sources its physical product (razors) from overseas (a South Korean manufacturer called Dorco).
But Annabel Hurman is confident Freshbrush will succeed. “I think a lot of people think toothbrushes are boring,” she says. “But as long as you start with a really good idea and know that there’s a market for it, you can be successful.”