SmileDirectClub, which went public in September 2019, is expanding beyond its most famous product of teeth aligners. The direct-to-consumer brand is debuting an oral care line that includes an electric toothbrush, toothpastes, a water flosser and more at over 3,800 Walmart stores and on walmart.com.
It’s yet another move by SmileDirectClub to expand its retail presence, while entering new categories to keep growing as a company. For some time, SmileDirectClub has sold adjacent accessories to its teeth aligner business, such as a whitening kit, but this is its largest product expansion so far.
On the retail side, SmileDirectClub announced a partnership with CVS in April 2019 to open 1,000 SmileShops inside CVS stores across the country. Now, SmileDirectClub is taking a page out of the old brand playbook to keep up with its competitors such as Quip, which in July announced a dental insurance alternative.
“We want to be where the customers are and where we can impact them the most,” said Josh Chapman, chief global brand officer at SmileDirectClub. “Walmart is one of the largest retailers in the world, and this is great for brand awareness and improving customers’ great habits.”
Founded in 2014, SmileDirectClub has more than 750,00 customers and reached a $3.2 billion valuation before it went public, with $432.2 million in revenue in 2018. The brand’s new oral care line includes products such as the Bright On premium teeth whitening kit for $39.98 (different than the original whitening kit sold on its own website) and a Smile Spa, which uses ultrasonic and UV cleaning to get rid of “99% of odor-causing bacteria” on products from toothbrush heads to retainers.
SmileDirectClub is also introducing two exclusive offerings on its ecommerce site, including a limited edition toothbrush for its aligners and a subscription plan to replace electric toothbrush heads starting at $5 a refill.
“We try to be thoughtful of how can we leverage these products being sold in Walmart [and] how can we make it special for other customers who wear aligners,” Chapman said.
To start, SmileDirectClub is debuting in 2,600 Walmart stores with a special end cap experience that details the whitening products and the new toothbrush. By February, it’ll be in 3,800 stores with an inline display to group all the products together.
Chapman said Walmart was the ideal retailer, as opposed to Target where many DTC brands first test retail, because of SmileDirectClub’s “mission of democratization of healthcare.” As part of the partnership, SmileDirectClub will receive item-level information and store sales figures on its products. This isn’t Walmart’s first foray to working with DTC brands; the company previously brought Harry’s into its stores (pre-acquisition) in May 2018.
Unlike other DTC brands, now that it’s public SmileDirectClub has to deliver quarterly earnings showing growth and revenue. It’s partly why the brand is pushing so aggressively into an omnichannel strategy.
It’s a well-worn path that many other DTC brands have pursued. It’s no longer unique or innovative to start a company with a single product offering and expect success; even Warby Parker recently expanded beyond its namesake glasses and debuted its own contact lens brand Scout.
But unlike other brands that expand into new categories as a means to an end, DTC brands like SmileDirectClub are trying to remain in their lane and not necessarily expand into everything just to grow and slap their name on new items.
“We’re making a premium hard-to-find custom product,” Chapman said. “From Day 1, this is our dream to do it, and it’s taking us a while cause we wanted to do it right.”