Retail tissue’s substantial sales gain in 2020 was mainly driven by shoppers’ higher-than-usual demand for toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissues due to extended home seclusion and enhanced hygienic awareness.
Despite supply hiccups during sporadic stockpiling phases, Procter & Gamble continued to lead the US retail tissue category. However, shelves empty of brand-name products and consumers tightening belts led to an increase in willingness to try private label products, which had over the years closed the quality gap to a point where consumers, particularly less brand-loyal millennials, no longer associated premium quality with higher-priced named-brands only.
In a time of crisis, tissue brands were shifting the communication to acknowledge an altered landscape and to further deepen consumers’ connection to this daily staple.
Retail tissue demand will soften considerably as the pandemic retreats and the shelter-in-place order loosens, with fundamentals such as population growth gradually becoming the main growth driver once more. The switch to cost-efficient, sustainable alternatives such as washable cloths and bidets could further diminish gains in categories such as paper towels, facial tissues and toilet paper.
Private label products in retail tissue will sustain their growth momentum and expect steady share gains in the coming years. Ongoing investments by manufacturers to build additional tissue production capacity largely dedicated to private label products will provide a sure sign for optimism.
Sustainability may not have been the top priority for consumers during the acute initial phase of COVID-19 when immediate attention turned to securing supply of goods. However, manufacturers and brands continued investments in responsible sourcing, energy-efficient manufacturing and plastic-free packaging, as well as the growing consumer interest in alternative fibres such as bamboo pulp and wheat straw.
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This report originates from Passport, our Retail Tissue research and analysis database.
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