There is a growing trend in the consumer market that bigger is better. The spread of larger and still larger has leaked its way into almost every corner of our world. I recently noticed a virtually unchanged commodity getting caught up with this need for the gargantuan.
This realization began in the powder room on the first floor of our almost100 year-old home. The toilet paper dispenser is a tile inlay installed when standard, was not Mega, Super Mega, or Ultra-Super Mega. It is increasingly difficult to find quality toilet paper rolls in this smaller size. I became aware of the increase in toilet paper roll size just before the pandemic. During the pandemic, the shortage of toilet paper sent manufacturers into a tailspin and the onslaught of oversizing began.
Perhaps toilet paper manufacturers are trying to accommodate us by keeping up with the fast-food industry. The larger the portions of fries, the higher ounces of soft drinks, the more we have to… you get the idea. This appears to be a logical conclusion and we might want to thank them for their thoughtfulness.
A closer look reveals that the manufactures of toilet paper may not be so altruistic. The cost of cardboard increased by approximately 22% in 2021. This is mainly due to the increased cost of wood pulp which is used to make cardboard. So, let’s do the math. Double, triple the size of the number of sheets of toilet paper on a single roll and use half, to a third, of the cardboard. The sheets were going to be produced to meet the need, so why not make the rolls bigger and cut down on the need for the cardboard roll? Rebrand the label to make the consumer think they are getting more, up the price because, after all, the rolls are giant, and save a fortune on the cardboard.
Now let’s look at it from the consumer’s point of view. We are conditioned to believe that bigger is better. But there is another factor that rolls around in the back of our minds. Convenience is the key here. Larger rolls mean less frequent trips to purchase toilet paper. The rolls are enormous, so walks to the linen closet, reaches behind to the tank, and bends into the bathroom cabinet are fewer. But here is the biggie that manufacturers are counting on. The visual effect and the thought of more sheets on a roll unconsciously allow us to pull more sheets during each use. We use more, we buy more, and their profit margin grows. During the height of the pandemic, toilet paper sales spiked 845%, Soaring to eleven billion dollars for 2020. That’s a lot of pennies saved on those cardboard rolls.
Here is another thought to sit down and think about, pun intended. The increased use of TP causes increases in carbon emissions and the need for more trees to be sacrificed. Both points boost global warming and are harmful to our planet. I have included a link to a Newsweek article below, but be forewarned; there is a great deal of butt talk in it.
Will we see the return of the smaller roll? Only time will tell. I believe the Mega, Super-Mega, and Ultra-Super-Mega rolls are here to stay, so if you’re remodeling your bathroom, you may want to consider installing a large paper towel dispenser instead of a toilet paper one. Size does matter.
How many of you can remember the name of the man shown in the photo, the brand he advertised, and the slogan he used?
Please let me know your thoughts and answers.
"Writing is the flow of life through words on a page. We all have this talent to share." Luca DiMatteo