Toilet paper. Yeah. We’re going to talk about it.
We all buy it. We all seem to have an opinion on which side it should hang. Other than that, I guess what most people look for in toilet paper is how much it costs and how much it doesn’t feel like sandpaper. Some of us also look for paper products that are sustainable. I’m one of those people.
Given a choice, I always buy the store brand toilet paper from Whole Foods. You know, the one that’s made of recycled, unbleached, post consumer blah blah blah. For me that’s a no brainer. Whenever I buy paper products that’s my default option.
Or at least that’s how I used to buy toilet paper. About 2 years ago my brother and his girlfriend were living with me for a few months. And they have different priorities for toilet paper than I do. Eco friendly was much less important to them than non-sandpaperiness. And apparently my eco toilet paper just isn’t as comfortable to them as the non-eco brands. I never had any problem with the stuff, but I’m happy with anything that’s better than the single ply, non-perforated mega rolls you find at truck stops.
But I didn’t want to be a bad hostess so I started getting ‘regular’ toilet paper. My brother likes Charmin, but I think it’s too plushy and it seems like you don’t get as much per roll (I don’t know if that’s actually true. It just seemed that we went through those rolls a lot faster than the thinner stuff). So I started buying Cottonelle because it seems to have a good balance of plushy-ness to ROI. Also, it’s often on sale at the drugstore.
Thankfully my brother and his girlfriend moved out a few months later, but then I started living with roommates for the first time in 10 years. And in fear of being ridiculed and judged by my new roommates for my apparent poor taste in toilet paper, I’ve continued to buy Cottonelle.
I don’t like Cottonelle. I like my thin, not as white, not as plushy eco stuff. Even though it’s more expensive, I don’t think it’s worth compromising the environment so I can wipe my butt with a little less friction.
But the comfort of my guests and roommates is a bigger priority to me (I do try to make up for my eco-irresponsibility in other ways). So I suffer through the Cottonelle because it doesn’t seem to be a battle worth fighting. It’s embarrassing enough to share your bathroom with another person. I don’t want my weird taste in toilet paper to be one more awkward thing to deal with. So I’ve compromised my principles. I hope you’re happy Cottonelle. And I miss you, 365 100% Recycled Bath Tissue. Maybe we’ll be together again someday…
While toilet paper might not be where it happens for most (but maybe? I wonder how many others have had similar situations…), I bet there are a lot of people who buy products that aren’t their first choice because the one they really want just doesn’t seem viable right now. And as soon as an alternative comes along that meets their need they’ll probably jump ship to the thing they’ve wanted all along.
If I didn’t share my bathroom with others I would never buy Cottonelle again. But if you looked at my toilet paper buying patterns, Cottonelle would probably count me as a good, loyal customer.
This is how brands get ‘disrupted’ (Sorry. I hate that word too). They become complacent because they believe their regular customers like them, not just tolerate them.
One day I will no longer buy Cottonelle. And Cottonelle probably won’t understand why if they looked at my long record of loyalty. I love my 365 100% Recycled Bath Tissue. I couldn’t careless about Cottonelle. All brands must remember: loyalty ≠ love.