Iot Business Model Lessons Can Be Learned From A Smart Toothbrush

One can use almost any everyday object to illustrate how the addition of connectivity and data can help transform a business model. A recent TechCrunch piece uses the example of the humble toothbrush, which is something nearly everyone buys and uses on a regular basis.

Toothbrush maker Oral-B can already claim that it creates value for consumers because its products improve their oral health. The key competitive advantage for the toothbrush is gaining access to space on retail shelves.

However, technology can be used to make toothbrushes even better. For example, Oral-B’s smart toothbrush uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone app that keeps track of brushing progress, judges brushing technique, and motivates people to brush with reminders and rewards.

A software development kit (SDK) is available for developers to extend the toothbrush. For example, they might opt to make a game that offers kids rewards for brushing their teeth regularly, something that would likely be appreciated by many parents.

All of this is great, but Oral B still has to make money by the one-time sales of its smart toothbrush via retail channels.

Beam Dental Shows The Power Of Development

Taking the business model one step further, a company called Beam Dental offers a connected toothbrush with dental insurance along with a subscription for dental supplies like toothpaste and floss.

This business model goes beyond one-time sales to make money. In this case, the toothbrush is actually part of the customer acquisition costs, and the real money is made on the dental insurance and consumables. This represents a true overhaul of the connected toothbrush business model. In fact, Beam isn’t competing with toothbrush makers such as Oral-B at all; it’s competing among dental insurers and using the consumer data the toothbrush and its connected app collect to its competitive advantage. Now that’s a revolution!

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