SmileDirectClub to sell premium clear aligners

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SmileDirectClub to launch SDC+ premium clear aligner treatment

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SmileDirectClub is set to launch SDC+, a premium, dentist-led clear aligner treatment offering that will target high-income consumers with a price tag of US$3,900. (Image: edwardolive/Shutterstock)

NASHVILLE, Tenn., US: The pioneer of direct-to-consumer (D2C) clear aligner treatment will begin selling a premium, dentist-led treatment package within the next six months. Having previously announced its intention to compete with market leader Align Technology, the company has now revealed the name, price point and target demographic of its new premium service offering, for which it has been busy building a partner network of dentists and orthodontists.

SDC will launch SDC+ in selected markets in the fourth quarter of this year, or early in the first quarter of 2023. The premium treatment offering will be targeted at high-income consumers and will include in-office clinical care, improved access to the company’s teledentistry platform and additional post-treatment care, such as retainers and SDC oral care products.

CEO David Katzman shared the new information with analysts during a conference call on 9 August. During the call, he said: “In our intense qualitative and quantitative research, we learned that higher income consumers will be far more attracted to our brand at a premium price when paired with greater access to a general practitioner throughout treatment.”

“[A] big chunk of that extra US$2,000 is for the doctor”

Katzman said that treatment with SDC+ will be priced at US$3,900 (€3,818) and that dentists who oversee SDC+ cases will receive “significantly more” cash than they currently do when treating patients with SDC’s current product offering. The average gross sales price of SDC’s clear aligner treatment is currently US$1,917.

“[The higher price] improves not only the economics to us and our partner offices, but also enables us to provide this enhanced access to care while remaining price competitive with a premium service,” Katzman said.

SDC’s move into the premium clear aligner category is more a targeted sidestep towards a higher-income demographic than a capitulation to the critics of D2C orthodontics. The company has taken a battering during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic owing to a change in spending behaviour within its core demographic. With a median household income of US$68,000, SDC’s target demographic struggled to pay its bills in the first waves of the pandemic, and rising inflation and the onset of a recession in the US have since obscured the light at the end of SDC’s financial tunnel. The company signalled a major change to its business model earlier this year and has proceeded to drip-feed investors with details about a new, premium treatment offering.

The company began building a partner network of general dentists and orthodontists well before it mentioned the launch of a premium product. It currently has a network of 690 practices in North America that are either active or pending training, according to company information. Katzman said that its partner network has effectively morphed into SDC+. He explained: “It’s really one initiative now. So, every office that we sign up will have two offerings. One would be [SDC’s teledentistry offering], which is the current partner network, and then they’ll also be able to offer that US$3,900 dual approach where that GP in that office will play a bigger role in servicing that patient.”

“[A] big chunk of that extra US$2,000 is for the doctor,” Katzman stated.

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