Analyst Insight by Tamara Bartels, Home Care, Tissue & Hygiene Analyst, Euromonitor International
Let’s face it, the toilet paper consumers use today is not that much
different from what their parents or even grandparents used decades ago.
Greater absorbency or increased softness might have added some extra value to
category sales but the format itself, pulp sheets on a roll, has remained virtually
So, in order to prevent the category from reaching a standstill in
saturated markets, such as the US where consumption has been stagnating at 8kg
per capita since 2000, manufacturers have had to look for further
opportunities. As consumers are exposed to baby wipes at the very start of
their lives because the product promises to be hygienic and sensitive to the
skin, why not make the substrate flushable, sell it as wet toilet tissue and
extend the target audience?
Wet toilet tissue is not supposed to be a substitute for regular toilet
paper but used as an additional product to be incorporated into the daily
toilet routine, a routine that should add value to the category. Countries such
as Germany and Switzerland have proven that consumers are generally not opposed
to the idea of using wet wipes in intimate areas, with wet toilet tissue
reaching a share of over 10% of total toilet paper sales. However, particularly
convenience-driven US consumers struggle with where to place wet toilet tissue
in the bathroom, which eventually prevents sales from taking off.
Banished to the bathroom
One reason why the format of toilet paper has not changed is because
most consumers’ bathrooms have a holder for standardised toilet rolls. But with
wet toilet tissue either coming in dispenser tubs or flexible packaging,
consumers are unsure where to put it, eventually banishing it to the bathroom
cabinet. Hence, it is often not easy to reach, becomes forgotten, is not used and
consequently not purchased again.
This issue is not new to manufacturers and they have put great effort
into developing a solution to put wipes in closer proximity to toilet paper.
Over the years Kimberly-Clark has patented several dispensers for wet toilet
tissue but has only launched a simple plastic hanger for its Kleenex Cottonelle
wet wipes to temporarily install the plastic container on the wall. However,
the hanger saw little success because consumers were hesitant to openly display
the wet toilet tissue dispensing tub due to its undeniable resemblance to baby
Requiring a mainstream
To make wet toilet tissue more accessible to consumers requires the
development of a device that caters for both wet and dry toilet tissue and fits
into standard toilet paper holders. The US start-up company Duo LLC has come up
with a promising solution via its Trio system, which was nominated for INDA’s
Innovation Award at the World of Wipes conference in Atlanta this year.
However, wet wipe refills are only available via the company’s website and sell
at US$6 for 50 wipes, which makes them twice as expensive as, for example,
Kleenex Cottonelle wet wipes.
Like toilet paper, just wet
In the US, the share of wet toilet tissue in toilet paper has been
stagnating at 3% since 2007, showing that the product is still far from
becoming a regular part of toilet hygiene. With no mainstream device for both
wet and dry toilet paper available, it is unlikely that sales of wet toilet
tissue will increase above market growth rates. However, a look at recent US
patent registrations reveals that numerous innovators are working on solutions
to transform the format and make wet toilet tissue look more like toilet paper
rather than baby wipes, which could eventually attract more consumers and solve
the problem of where to put it in the bathroom.