The Toilet Tissue Issue. A few months ago pre-lockdown Helen Morris of Tissue World Magazine published an interview with Mark Hendriksen in ‘ConsumerSpeak.’ The worldwide tissue market is worth over £50 billion a year and TWM is the leading independent publication and online resource for the global tissue industry, publishing essential information, analysis and opinions on breaking trends in business, technology, regional developments and sustainability. At the same time as our article appeared in mid May, those in the know were writing a ‘pandemic special 3-parter’ with Helen having interviewed tissue mills and industry insiders to get their views on how the pandemic is impacting the tissue market [toilet paper being a major part of that] and their forecasts for the future. If you’re not in the Tissue Industry and heard of the much respected TWM, or you’re one of many toilet paper users, you may be interested to hear their thoughts.
Impacts on Brands, Business and Consumers. The links to the 3 articles are integrated below. We’re currently doing a short survey aimed at consumers which [although it’s still work in progress] is so far bearing out the observations made in these reports. What has been shown here is how the industry has stepped up to make a collaborative effort, which so clearly demonstrates how the they can come together if and as necessary with an ability to adapt swiftly to the new moments of the economy. The manufacturers and suppliers have also taken extra steps to keep their people and their families safe and healthy. These measures have included enhanced safety measures for office, mill and distribution centre operations. As we see it for our readers, the main (brand-consumer) bullet points taken from the articles are as follows:
- ‘The AfH [away from home] sector is especially hard hit as many nations shutdown social activity as restaurants, bars, flights and hotels temporary close down to adjust and safeguard citizens.
- An increase has been seen in demand globally for consumer products, that is; toilet paper, household towels, baby diapers, feminine care, and incontinence care products.
- Interestingly but not surprisingly, in view of stock shortages and concerns over store visits, direct-to-consumer (DTC) tissue brands operating on subscription basis also see a significant increase in demand and the surge in the number of subscribers. It is unlikely that these brands will be able to retain all of their newly acquired customers as impact of pandemic wanes. However, in regard to e.commerce and DTC, according to some traditionally retail only suppliers, ‘They believe that some of the e-commerce increase will be permanent even after the end of the pandemic.’ [TWM Analysis Part 1]
Winds of Change. It’s going to be interesting to see how many brands retain their customers, how many are ‘unfaithful’ and switch brand and who buys cheaper or non specific brands, and last but not least, though it seems more so in the US and the UK for example, who switches to bidets and the wash vs wipe. All this apart from the greater public awareness of how toilet paper is produced and the amounts of trees & water needed to make it, plus the carbon footprint with delivery. Start-ups, brand ethics, sustainability, flushing and the 3Ps, use of bamboo vs trees, giving back to help resolve world sanitation problems, plus bidets and budgets are all increasingly becoming consumer considerations.
Further Analysis. Next up in TWM’s chat with industry insiders, again, some fascinating nuggets of info and observations, primarily the consequences on daily life, freedom or movement, employment, operations and liquidity of companies, and the global economy as a whole. The manufacturing of TP and tissue was impacted when the pandemic started, then further disrupted by the panic buying, both of which hit the supply chain. ‘Orders for toilet paper and paper towels increased as consumer/household demand surged, while demand for products at airports, hotels, institutional spaces and other public venues softened.’ [TWM Analysis Part 2]
The New Normal? Finally, the 3rd article discussed the temporary uptick in retail, against the troubles in the ‘away from home’ [AfH] sector. Although titled as ‘USA Tissue’ the general findings apply to a number of countries. This then comes full circle, as the points made in Article 1 begin to repeat for both consumer and business activities/public services. The take-aways from this for us were:
- ‘It’s important to consider that the extent of economic fall out and high rates of unemployment will place an additional strain on many household budgets, with consumers rationalising further. Potentially diminishing gains for categories like paper towels and facial tissue, with toilet paper serving as a substitute in view of depressed incomes.’
- ‘However, the spike in demand is not necessarily all good news for the key brands. Aside from being temporary, the uptake in demand sees shoppers choosing first and foremost cheaper private label as well as stocking large bulk lower cost packages at retailers like Costco as well as discounters.’
- ‘With respect to consumer tissue and bathroom routines, in the past couple of years we have been watching the rising demand for bidets in the US.’ Which we’ve also observed but as mentioned, the US seemingly more so than other countries with TUSHY in particular.
- The major manufacturers are succeeding and TP consumption looks on track to keep growing. ‘However, direct-to-consumer (DTC) tissue brands operating on a subscription basis are proving to be agile when it comes to inventory management, and they engage with customers on an ongoing basis, also via popular social media channels, so are building longer-term customer retention and acquisition strategies.’ A thought for the bigger players to ponder as pandas join the bears, koalas and puppies in an effort to grab your bottom?
Just to wrap up, our weekly round up of the news and articles on loos & no. 2s…
- More news on harnessing the power of poop from, ‘Successful Farming‘, written by Jessica Wesson.
- The Proof is in the Poop. ‘How your poop is being used in the fight against COVID-19‘ from the San Diego Union Tribune, as more and more interest grows in epidemiology + wastewater. From CNN on the same subject, check out this video, ‘How poop could help warn of the next coronavirus outbreak.’ Finally, for now, yet another article from The South China Morning Post, ‘Singapore is checking waste water with people’s poo for coronavirus‘ by Dewey Sim.
- An article from Anthropocene in their weekly science despatch, ‘What to do about greenhouse gases from poo‘ by Sarah DeWeerdt.
- Sit vs Squat. Lastly, about one of our regular topics. An article by Michael Marshall in NewScientist recently reported, “Certainly, sitting upright to void isn’t natural. For most of our species’ history, people squatted, bending their knees and sticking out their bottoms. About two-thirds of people still do this. Of course, “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “better.” However, medical professionals are starting to implicate conventional toilet use in many abdominal disorders including constipation, bloating and possibly haemorrhoids. And a recent review of sitting upright to defecate even concluded that it was time to “put this unfortunate experiment to an end”.
Do Get in Touch. We’re always happy to hear from readers with any comments or interesting articles so do get in touch. Until next week…