Where Consumers Shop for Tissue and Hygiene

May 2021

With 2020 COVID-19-driven channel shifts, consumer tissue and disposable hygiene not surprisingly saw a surge in e-commerce. Discount retail and private label also saw increases in purchasing, as affordability became top of the agenda for many households affected by depressed incomes. This report analyses shifts in retail channels in consumer tissue and disposable hygiene in 2020, and reviews brand, private label and retailer shifts in 2020 and post-pandemic.

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Key findings

Overall, global retail tissue and disposable hygiene sees positive growth, although many developing markets saw muted performances due to economic downturn

Due to their essential nature, especially in developed regions, retail tissue and disposable hygiene products overall posted positive growth in 2020. However, a number of less income secure developing regions saw the pace of growth slow, as households pulled back from spending. For the most part, tissue and hygiene products are sold through retailers which were deemed essential and remained open during 2020, with sales also boosted by a surge in e-commerce.

Focus on affordability gives upper hand to retailers that sell at a discount

With many households looking for cost saving solutions in an uncertain economic environment, retailers that sell at a discount saw a rise in sales. These included discounters, variety stores (mainly dollar stores), and warehouse clubs. As consumers continue to show signs of caution in 2021, affordability is likely to remain a key consideration in spending decisions.

Stronger shift to e-commerce supports DTC strategies and brands, contributing to changing competitive dynamics

While already rising ahead of store-based growth, e-commerce surged further in 2020, providing an additional platform for brand engagement and changing the competitive environment, as many DTC brands acquired large numbers of new customers in 2020, and succeeded in raising brand awareness and sales within a marketplace typically led by a few key global and regional players.

As more consumers return to in-person shopping, omnichannel strategies will remain an integral part of successful consumer outreach across markets

With digitalisation accelerating rapidly amidst COVID-19, consumers are increasingly comfortable with online shopping, which will contribute to robust e-commerce growth in the coming years. Store-based channels will, however, remain dominant, as consumers will still wish to consult with staff, and try and immediately receive products. It is important that consumers are given a range of purchasing channels, and businesses will need to expand their options.


Key findings

Industry Snapshot

Growth for the industry in 2020 and beyond
Wipes the biggest winner in 2020, but demand is normalising
Long-term prospects for developing markets are positive

Store-Based Channels

Supermarkets and hypermarkets remain the largest channels in 2020
Industry professionals see discount retail gain in 2020
Consumer shopping dynamics support the industry view
Leading discounters benefit from the channel shifts
Private label sees growth as consumers priorities shift
Private label innovation and supply chain responding to demand
Frugality in spending continues into 2021

Non-Store Channels

E-commerce gained pre-pandemic and surged in 2020
World’s top players in e-commerce compete for consumer attention
Click-and-collect: Long-term growth predicated on improved logistics
Building partnerships to drive expansion and customer acquisition
Coterie creates unique customer support through texting
Despite digitalisation, store-based presence is still on the agenda
Bim Bang Boo strives to tap into digital and physical spaces

Future Developments

Industry post-COVID: Growth shifting back to emerging markets
Return to promotional activities as supply chain normalises
Implementing price increases in post-COVID conditions
Key takeaways


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