Electric toothbrush usage in Japan


Have you used an electric toothbrush? graph of japanese statisticsAfter mentioning in a survey earlier this week about how smoking was my second-favourite survey topic, along comes this survey from DMSDRIVE Research Inc on my favourite topic in Japan, tooth care, in particular electric toothbrushes. As a bonus, this survey also touches on the use of this equipment by smokers.


Between the 20th and 27th of August 2008 9,029 memebers of the DIMSDRIVE monitor group completed a private online questionnaire. 51.6% of the sample were female, 1.2% in their teens, 13.4% in their twenties, 33.8% in their thirties, 29.9% in their forties, 14.9% in their fifties, and 6.8% aged sixty or older. As a bonus statistic, 27.2% were current smokers, 19.3% ex-smokers, and 53.5% had never smoked.

Note that Sunstar make cheap-and-cheerful battery-operated toothbrushes that they sell alongside their manual counterparts in almost all pharmacies and supermarkets, where as all the other manufacturers make proper brushes.

I have a Braun Oral-B that I bought with points from a credit card, but I only use it at the weekends as cleaning and drying after every use during the week is too much bother!

Research results

Q1: Have you used an electric toothbrush? (Sample size=9,092)

Currently use19.4%
Used to use38.0%
Never used (to Q9)42.6%

Older people were more likely to have used electric brushes, and although there were more current male users than female users, the number of ex-users were higher for females, a bit of a curious statistic. Smokers were slightly more likely to use than those who had never smoked, but there was almost no difference between current and ex-smoker rates.

Q2: Why did you think you ought to try using an electric toothbrush? (Sample size=5,223, multiple answer)

Seemed to brush thoroughly40.5%
Seemed it would feel good to use28.6%
Worried that my current brush left bits unbrushed28.5%
Wanted to try (was interested in one)28.1%
Worried about plaque, tartar27.0%
Was cheap25.7%
Seemed to brush reliably even with poor technique20.9%
Worried teeth were dirty, had yellow spots16.5%
Got it as a present14.8%
Worried about bad breath, mouth odour11.4%
Family, friends recommended it10.6%
Had gum disease9.0%
Just saw it in a shop7.2%
Has dental caries (decay)5.0%
Seemed it would brush softly, gently4.9%
Television, newspaper, magazine, etc recommended it3.9%
Dentist, specialist recommented it3.7%
Seemed easy to brush with brace, bridge, etc1.2%
Shop assistant recommended it0.8%
No particular reason3.6%

All ex-users now skipped to the question between Q8 and Q9.

Q3: Who is the maker of your current electric toothbrush? (Sample size=1,764)

Braun (Oral-B)26.2%
National/Panasonic (Dolts, etc)23.0%
Philips (Sonicare)12.6%
Omron Health Care (Mediclean, etc)11.3%
Toray (Ultima)4.4%
Sunstar (G.U.M)4.3%
Tescom (Blanca)0.4%
Sanyo (Hapish, etc)0.3%
Don’t know13.2%

Q4: Where did you purchase your current electric toothbrush? (Sample size=1,764)

Electrical superstore43.1%
Internet mail order, auction16.3%
Drug store11.4%
Discount store3.6%
Dentist, hospital3.4%
Home centre3.2%
Small electrical shop11.1%
LOFT, Tokyu Hands, etc0.7%
Department store0.5%
Variety shop0.2%
Don’t know1.0%
Didn’t buy it myself (to Q6)9.8%

Panasonic the maker was most often bought at electrical superstores, Philips and Toray tops two for internet purchasing, and Sunstar top by far at drug stores and supermarkets.

Q5: About how much did you pay for your current electric toothbrush? (Sample size=1,575)

Up to 999 yen5.8%
1,000 to 2,999 yen16.4%
3,000 to 4,999 yen16.4%
5,000 to 7,999 yen10.9%
8,000 to 9,999 yen12.9%
10,000 to 14,999 yen17.5%
15,000 to 19,999 yen6.0%
20,000 yen or more2.5%
Don’t know, can’t remember11.6%

Q6: What did you reference when selecting your current electric toothbrush? (Sample size=1,764, multiple answer)

Looked at product in store42.9%
Maker’s web site16.3%
Other internet site14.1%
Catalogue, pamphlet12.7%
Family, friend’s recommendation7.6%
Shop staff’s recommendation6.4%
Dentist’s, doctor’s, specialist’s recommendation5.9%
Hospital leaflet, poster, etc1.3%
Didn’t reference anything21.3%

By maker, interestingly Philips was the one most often recommended by dentists and other specialists, with 19.3% of purchasers hearing about it that way, over four times the rate of the next. Toray was most often discovered via the internet, with 35.1% referencing unofficial sources, but it was also top for purchasers referring to the official home page, catalogues, and television.

Q7: Which of the following points influenced you when selecting your current electric toothbrush? (Sample size=1,764, multiple answer)

Maker, brand29.3%
Has ultrasonic feature22.3%
Rapid, powerful brush strokes19.5%
Extra brushes are cheap15.0%
High-class, high functionality item12.6%
Easy to hold grip10.l9%
Brush way of movement10.4%
Tartar removal, whitening, other features10.4%
Gets right to the hard-to-reach parts8.8%
Has pronounced “just brushed” feel7.7%
Gentle on teeth7.3%
Brush head materials, softness, shape, etc7.2%
Can choose brushing mode, length3.7%
Selection of different heads3.1%
Design, mascot character2.2%
Has water spray1.0%
Built-in navi system, gatope-za-1.0%
Infrared disinfectant system0.3%
Nothing in particular5.9%
Didn’t choose it myself12.4%

Toray users chose theirs for the ultrasonic feature, which, when taken along with the previous question, suggests that the word-of-mouth effect, therefore the quality (or at least the sense of quality) of the cleaning given by their brushes is very high. I want to look into them too!

Q8: How satisified are you with your current electric toothbrush? (Sample size=1,764)

Completely satisfied15.5%
Somewhat satisfied64.1%
Can’t say either way16.7%
Somewhat dissatisfied2.7%
Very dissatisfied1.0%

Given the previous question results, surprisingly it was not Toray but Philips who had the highest percentage of users completely satisfied, but adding together both degrees of satisfaction it was actually Panasonic who came out tops! Toray also had the second-highest percentage of neutral users, but no negative feedback at all.

By price, the more people paid the more likely they were to be totally satisfied.

Unfortunately, at this point there was an error in the report, and although a summary of the question “Why did you stop using an electric toothrush?”, asked to the 3,459 ex-users, was printed, the full results were not. The summary was as follows.

The top reason (multiple answers allowed) for quitting was that brushing was more difficult than they thought it would be, with 35.0% citing this reason. Next, 28.4% felt more satisfied doing it by hand, 28.1% found it all just too much of a bother, 22.5% disliked having to buy extra brush heads, and 22.3% felt the price of the extra heads was too high. For the last two answers regarding buying spare brushes, I wonder how big the intersection between the 22.5% and the 22.3% was.

Now, the last question was for those who had never used an electric toothbrush according to Q1.

Q9: Do you want to use an electric toothbrush in the future? (Sample size=3,869)

Really want to use13.2%
Perhaps want to use41.2%
Can’t say either way23.3%
Perhaps don’t want to use13.6%
Don’t want to use at all8.7%
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