The theme “toilet paper” was highlighted in many articles in the year 2020. Throughout the pandemic, the great demand for this product made the shortage a harsh reality in much of North America.
Restrictions on the operation of restaurants, schools and offices during this period meant that people were studying and working full time at home, which in turn increased the exacerbated purchase of toilet paper exponentially. Many even bought compulsively to stock.
The average U.S. household uses about 409 rolls a year, according to Georgia Pacific, maker of Angel Soft and Quilted Northern. It estimated that staying at home 24/7 would increase that number by 40 percent.
According to Nielsen, when the Covid-19 outbreak first occurred in March, year-on-year sales of toilet paper jumped 90% compared to the same period last year, reaching $ 1.7 billion.
The panic buying and the accumulation of products generated so much repercussion that Kimberly-Clark, through its Cottonelle brand, launched the advertising campaign #ShareASquare, which encouraged people to be more generous instead of storing toilet paper.
The first wave of panic caused about 48 percent of U.S. grocery stores to be out of stock of toilet paper for some part of the day on April 19, the latest date for which figures were available. In comparison, out-of-stock shelves were prevalent at 73 percent of U.S. grocery stores one week earlier, on April 12, according to Reuters.
In the second wave of panic buying, hoping to keep their shelves stocked and preventing customers from stocking up, as they did when the pandemic began, several leading supermarket chains re-enforced limits on essential items such as toilet paper, paper towels and disinfectant wipes .
Currently, the North American market for toilet paper is largely marked by the presence of three companies: Georgia-Pacific, Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark. However, although people are used to buying their brands of toilet paper all their lives, the scarcity has made new options come to the market.
In order to keep their shelves stocked, retailers were buying foreign brands of toilet paper, mainly from Mexico. Major chains across the country, including CVS, Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, 7-Eleven and others, sold international brands. Mexican brands like Regio, Hoteles Elite, Daisy Soft, Petalo and Vogue were found in supermarkets across the United States.
Online shopping was also boosted, which helped young brands like No.2, which is a company that makes bamboo toilet paper. According to Adweek, Samira Far, who founded No.2 last year, said people who took to the internet at the outset of the pandemic “all of a sudden became very educated on the fact that there are multiple different types of toilet paper.”
Another company that stood out in 2020 was Who Gives a Crap, which toilet paper produced with bamboo and recycled materials. When the pandemic broke out, the company’s sales skyrocketed on a large scale, causing them to stop advertising as their product ran out.
“We had over half a million people sign up for that waiting list in just a couple of weeks, and it took us about six weeks to get back in stock,” Danny Alexander, co-founder of Who Gives A Crap, said. He also noted that this is “exciting time for challenger brands like ourselves.”