The quip Refillable Floss Pick is a continuation of our mission to create products and services that people enjoy using, and that guide and encourage the good habits that have the biggest impact on oral health.
quip's Refillable Floss Pick is a sustainable approach to flossing with a premium design. It comes in a compact, mirrored dispensing case that can be refilled with paper pulp floss pods. In order to match the convenience of a disposable floss pick, we created an innovative method for refilling the pick through an auto-feeding floss pod and tray system. The packaging and refills are entirely paper-based making all elements of delivery and use fully recyclable. A single floss pod can replace 180 single-use plastic floss picks, reducing plastic waste and litter. The case is small enough to easily fit in a pocket or bag to take on the go.
The Refillable Floss Pick clamps onto a section of floss with carefully considered details designed to maximize grip on the floss. Once the floss is loaded into the pick, it is pulled to the integrated cutting blade to cut the section. An over molded rubber surface and blade geometry hold the string within the case, priming it for the next use. The pick is molded in a high performance engineered resin to withstand years of use at high pressure.
The majority of Americans agree that flossing is an important part of taking care of their teeth and gums - but they also admit that they are not doing it daily. The goal with the design of our quip Refillable Floss Pick is to make people actually want to floss more often.
In our research, we found that people often find themselves worried about having food stuck in their teeth and are interested in flossing away from home, but most don't because so few people bring floss with them on the go. Another insight was that when asked why they didn't floss at home, a common answer was that they simply didn't remember because floss is often kept out of sight in the bathroom. We also learned that people who use disposable floss picks liked that the picks were an easy solution that could be used anywhere but didn't like that they were perpetuating the single-use plastic problem. Users felt like they were making a trade-off — doing the right thing for their oral hygiene, but the wrong thing for the environment.
These insights led quip to create the Refillable Floss Pick in a compact case that is easy to take on-the-go. During our interviews we found that people were most comfortable using a floss pick in front of a mirror however they did not always have access to one. Additionally our testers mentioned not knowing when they had food stuck in their teeth and wishing they had a quick way to check. This led to integrating a mirror into the case that is purposefully shaped to place emphasis on the mouth and provide a clear image whether you're checking your teeth or flossing.
In response to people forgetting to floss because their floss solution was buried in the back of their medicine cabinet and completely out of sight, we set out to develop a product people were proud to leave out. Following our principal of functional ambiguity, the refillable floss pick gives no indication of its function when in a closed state, allowing the product to live in the bathroom environment as a piece of decor rather than a medical object. In our research, we have found people resonate with this approach thinking it amplifies their space which in turn subtly reminds them to floss as they see the product in the bathroom. The other issue found in our research was how sloppy the bags of floss picks were by nature of the bag being soft. By creating a hard case, with a flat top and bottom, we add just enough structure to greatly improve how the product lives in a person's home.
The insight around why people turning to floss picks for an easy experience as well as reach proved to be instrumental as well. Starting with ease of use, from the project's kickoff we recognized the importance of making the experience as close to the grab-and-go nature of traditional disposable floss picks as possible. This meant minimizing the extra steps we created by making the product a permanent object. One way we approached solving this problem was having the action of loading the pick prime the case for the next use. This is accomplished through considered blade geometry and rubber over molded surfaces to grab the floss and hold in place while the string is cut.
Another reason we found people turn to floss picks was the comfort of reaching the far corners of their mouth. To develop for this preference we prototyped a range of shapes and angles of the pick to understand what drives comfort. After this testing, we determined that a Y-shaped shaped pick would not only provide reach to the back teeth absent in most picks, but would give us geometry necessary to achieve the clamping force necessary.
A major portion of the project's success came down to a material study on the pick itself to ensure it could stand up to the constant pressure of clamping onto floss. The greatest issue we encountered was counteracting the creep of the plastic as the material naturally wants relax into a deformed state. Working directly with our in house engineers, we explored a wide range of resins to achieve the necessary durability while preserving an appearance synonymous with other quip products.
Another major consideration in the design process was our goal of designing with sustainability in mind and minimizing plastic waste. The Refillable Floss Pick has a reusable handle and a floss refill pod that replaces 180 single-use plastic picks. For the floss refill pods, we strove to remove all plastic from the packaging which led us to molding the pods in paper pulp, making the refills fully compostable. Additionally, there is the plastic savings from the amount of floss material saved over traditional string floss. Since the only floss used in a session is what is held between the pick we reduce the amount of floss material used by over 90%. This conscious effort to have fully compostable and recyclable packaging extends to every scenario in which the Refillable Floss Pick is sold. For our retail partners, the product is packaged in a 100% paper package and in our direct to consumer channel the product is shipped in a rolled paper tube with molded paper insert.