We sat down with William Cowley, Head of Business Development at Sonisk, a pioneering UK healthcare brand aiming to put the best oral care technology within everyone’s reach.
Sonisk is backed by UK BBC 1 Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Touker Suleyman, and discussed how their unique, portable electric toothbrushes may have massive application in amenity kits for the onboard industry. Inspired by travel and designing products that suit modern life, Sonisk wants to bring minimal fuss and the ultimate care to oral hygiene.
They’ve set out to take on who they deem “the big guys in the oral care world” and they’re ready to move quickly and do things differently to disrupt the market.
Named after the Norwegian word for sonic, the brand is aligned with a culture that takes health seriously; where fresh air and outdoor spaces are respected.
More about Sonisk: the company and the products
“We are Sonisk. We are oral care, reimagined.
We’re looking to revolutionise the travel oral care market. We launched back in March 2021 with our hero product: the Sonisk pulse. It’s a battery-powered, travel toothbrush. We’re keen to design products that suit modern life and we’re inspired by travel. We’re also tired of the big oral care players dominating the market!”
What makes your product different, and exciting?
“When you go on holiday or a trip and you either take a manual toothbrush or people take their big bulky toothbrushes with their chargers. And they struggle to recharge them. So we came up with a product that is compact, lightweight and is suitable for travel.
- It’s got a neat travel cap.
- It runs at 31,000 revs a minute.
- We cover 8 colours, so we suit every demographic.
- Sonisk products are supposed to be used long-term, with rechargeable batteries.
And we’ve gone from strength to strength. We’ve launched into WH Smith, travel stores, in airports in Gatwick and Heathrow; in train stations. We’ve recently launched into Boots across 4 SKUs. And in February, we’re launching into 400 Sainsbury’s stores under the travel category.
So the brand is growing. We are disrupting the oral care market and we’re going to make sure that we are a household name in, say, five years time – really focusing on that travel element and one of the areas that we see an opportunity is the airline space.
Airlines offer oral care amenity packs in first class lounges with one-use toothbrushes or manual toothbrushes that will get used on a flight and then will be binned or won’t be used, and even are left on the flight afterwards.”
How are you responding to sustainability and plastic use?
“Our products are not single use plastic. So we see our products as a marketing tool for airlines – where we can offer a co-branded finish on our toothbrushes. So, holiday makers or travellers will use our brushes on the flight – as well as take them home and use them or use them when they’re on their holidays or trips away. So that’s our area of focus for the brand.
And it’s how we look to disrupt the oral care space, amongst other things that we’re developing:
- a range toothpaste
- breath sprays
- tablets and powders
Which will come to fruition in, maybe, six months time where we will also offer travel size products with that.”
How has Sonisk aligned with the onboard aspect for the airlines?
“This year, one of our main strategy focuses is onboard inflight retail as well as first class lounges. This show is really for us to showcase our products and showcase to airlines as well as inflight service providers what we have to offer in terms of a difference to what is out there.
And, it’s a chance to show how much better our products are compared to what people take on holiday. Plus, there’s the additional benefit to marketing for these airlines – you can have an airline branded product on our toothbrushes. People brush their teeth twice a day, every day. So, the airline would be visible everywhere they take it.
“We’re guided by serial entrepreneur Touker Suleyman & Distinguished Scientist Prof. Ed Lynch, so we’re led by the best.”
William Cowley – Business Development, Sonisk
What feedback have you had on adapting your product for onboard?
“For airlines and lounges, we can do a specific colour for an airline if they wanted. For example, we sell directly into the Swiss army and do a specific dark olive, camouflage toothbrush for them. So, we can use that case study as almost a similar case study for airlines.
And if, say, British Airways wanted a blue, white and red toothbrush, we could do that for them. So, we’re pretty flexible in what we can create, that’s not an issue for us – absolutely.”
Speaking of brand – how would you describe Sonisk in three words?
“Playful, affordable, disruptive.”
What trends are going on in the travel industry at the moment?
“There’s a massive focus on sustainability. Everyone’s focusing on sustainability and moving away from single plastic. We take on board that our products are not single plastic use. But, we use rechargeable batteries in our products. So you’re not just throwing a battery away, which we’ve taken on board.
We’ve also considered how we deliver the product in terms of packaging. For example, our packaging is cardboard, and if an airline wanted it packaged a certain way, we’d work to be able to do that. We’ve also got a full leather bag that we’re developing that could go in with the toothbrush and a pack of mini toothpaste to create sort of an amenity kit for either first class customers or or in-flight retail.”
How are you responding to different onboard price points?
“I looked into what airlines offered in business class and what they offered in first class. And there is a real step up between the two. But I feel like the real additional benefit for us is, yes, you can put in a good quality toothbrush which is probably suitable for first class, but with our product, you’ve got the whole “you can take your brush with you” aspect too.
Our brushes aren’t at that £1 price point, but you get a lot more out of our brush than what is currently on offer. Airline customers deserve better, and we’re offering them that.
You’re not just going to leave it on the flight, and you can then use it wherever you go, even if you’re not on a British Airways flight and you’ve got a British Airways toothbrush. Take it on a Virgin Atlantic flight and you are still carrying around their brand wherever you go.”
What are you looking forward to at WTCE? And what are your objectives?
“We’ve never been to WTCE. So, it’s going to be a jump into the deep end for us. But what a way to start – with a brand that is disrupting the oral care market! We’re going to go in with a splash and have some fun. We don’t always like to play by the rules!
We want to enjoy ourselves, meet as many people as possible in the industry and learn a lot (this is a massive part for us). But we also want to be introduced to airlines that could be of interest to us as well as full-service providers that we can tap into. I think that could be an interesting revenue stream for us by partnering with these service providers.”
What show tactics are you bringing to WTCE?
“What I’ve actually done is, I’ve already put into production and printed the top 35 airlines with a co-branded finish on some samples, which we’re going to bring. So if any buyers from airlines pop in, I can just hand them a co-branded finish to show them. We’re also going to fly in with some surprises as well as with a bucket load of toothbrushes to hand out!”
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