Down the pan – sales of toilet tissue tumble by 6% in four years

March 2, 2016

Toilet tissue, it may be a must, but new research from Mintel reveals a humbling state of affairs for the nation’s toilet tissue market, as today’s savvy shoppers choose to save their pennies when spending a penny.

Sales of toilet paper are tumbling, over the past five years the toilet tissue market has declined from £1,192 million in 2011 to £1,117 million in 2015, wiping 6% off the market value. In the last year alone, despite an increase in the population and a subsequent rise in the number of households, sales of this household essential fell by 2%, with the average household reducing their spend from £43 in 2014 to £41 in 2015. Illustrating the penny pinching nature of the nation’s shoppers, almost three in five (57%) household paper purchasers say they try to limit their use of paper products to save money.

Furthermore, the future of the market looks far from rosy,with sales expected to fall to £1,113 million in 2016.

57% of household paper purchasers say they try to limit their use of paper products to save money

Jack Duckett, Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

The increasing popularity of the discount retail sector has negatively impacted value sales of toilet tissue in recent years by driving down household spend on the category. Whilst the essential nature of products in this market means that consumers are likely to always be heavily influenced by price, further investment in new product development could breathe new life into the category, encouraging consumers to trade up to added-value products.”

While Brits are spending less on toilet paper, it seems the nation remains fairly particular when it comes to paper quality. Top of Brits toilet paper wish list is softness (57%) followed by strength (45%) and thickness/layers of ply (36%).

Meanwhile, just one in ten (10%) buyers rank being made from recycled paper amongst their top considerations, highlighting how overall the environment is much less of a consideration for shoppers than product quality. However, as many as 81% of paper product users say they would consider buying recycled toilet tissue if it was comparable in quality to standard paper.

“Price and quality are much heavier influencers than environmental considerations when it comes to buying household paper products. The fact that the majority of product users would consider buying recycled paper if it matched standard paper for quality suggests that brands need to do more to raise the profile of eco-friendly options, such as product comparison campaigns.” Jack comments.

Finally, whilst sales of toilet rolls are declining, the market for facial tissues has been in better health. The winter of 2014/15 saw an increase in bouts of cold and flu and as such sales of facial tissue saw a boost in 2015 following two years of decline. Indeed, between 2013 and 2015, sales of facial tissues increased around 4% to reach £226 million in 2015 – which is nothing to be sniffed at. Despite this uplift in sales, over the next five years the market is set to decline 2% falling to £221 million in 2020.

Further alignment with the aromatherapy market could help to reinvigorate the toilet and facial tissue markets. Taking inspiration from the UK’s growing complementary and alternative medicine market, brands can create facial tissue brands imbued with oils to help clear sinuses and soothe irritation.” Jack concludes .

Press review copies of the Household Paper Products UK 2016 report and interviews with Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst Jack Duckett are available on request from the press office.

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