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Paper products report: green and value-added count

There are only so many ways to stir up the paper category. But being green, big and pretty count

When it comes to household paper, consumers want quality, value and environmental responsibility. And don’t forget the pretty package.

“Consumer preferences have been driven by the activities of manufacturers and retailers, and resulting product changes and availability,” says Svetlana Uduslivaia, senior research analyst at Euromonitor International. For instance, attractive packaging is key in the facial tissue category, as brands–even private labels–eschew boring boxes. Similarly, consumers won’t tolerate subpar quality for the environment’s sake since eco-friendly brands have come so far in quality.

The “bigger is better” mentality is also a huge trend. “Consumers are moving away from small-pack sizes,”says Natalie Valentini, communications specialist at Metro Ontario. “Larger rolls, multi-packs and premium products are driving category performance.”

Tom Sharpe, owner of Sharpe’s Food Market in Cambellford, Ont., calls multi-packs the biggest trend in household paper. “People are looking for value and convenience,” he says. Sharpe says double rolls for facial tissues and paper towels are significantly outselling their single counterparts. He’ll buy about 10 skids of double rolls and three of single rolls. Steven Turner, director of trade marketing at Kruger Products, notes that more packs of double rolls fit on shelves compared to single roll packs with the same number of sheets.

Consumers also want options that are easier on the environment. “Public approval of eco-friendly alternatives has given rise to a sub-market of green products that is gaining ground in the tissue and hygiene products market,” says Uduslivaia. Cascades Tissue Group and Seventh Generation both recently improved the quality of their eco-friendly household paper products. They’ve also lowered their price points to compete with major brands.

Pretty in pink. And purple. And blue.

Facial tissue has to be more than soft and strong. It has to look good, too. “Consumers like to have the right colour to match their home decor,” says Jacinthe Larivière, marketing director of consumer products for Canada at Cascades. The company is set to launch a trendier design for its facial tissue later this year. Kruger is also focused on esthetics: it features 40 designs, including a “designer series” by Umbra. Kimberly-Clark has won packaging awards for its summer-themed Kleenex Wedge tissue boxes (pictured) that resemble a slice of watermelon or a chunk of orange.

“A lot of the environmentally friendly products have upped their game,” says Patrick Gil, senior product manager of fibres at Vermont-based Seventh Generation. “We’re trying to disrupt the stereotype that green means less effective.”

Cascades is on a similar mission. “The consumer is looking first for quality, with a fair price,” says Jocelyne Pinsonneault, Candiac, Que.-based Cascade Tissue’s VP of marketing. Cascades has invested in R&D to produce higher-quality products made of 100% recycled paper. Kruger and Kimberly-Clark have hopped on the trend with products like Cashmere EnviroCare and Scott Naturals. Still, innovation within this category is limited. “Manufacturers, in the conditions of a very mature market, attempt to move consumers toward products positioned as premium as well as those with value-added features like facial tissue with lotion and wet toilet tissue,” says Uduslivaia.

Kimberly-Clark, for example, has high hopes for its Cottonelle Fresh Flushable Moist Wipes. “They are really starting to take off,” says Brian Richardson, Mississauga, Ont.-based director of marketing for family care at Kimberly-Clark. The company recently secured up to 80% distribution across the country and Richardson says growth potential is promising as wet wipes have 45% market penetration in Europe. The company is also optimistic about its Kleenex Hand Towels, which promise “a clean towel every time” instead of cloth hand towels. Richardson says Kimberly-Clark has been doing a lot of in-store sampling. As with wet wipes, Kimberly-Clark aims to change the way we use hand towels.

In this competitive category, one thing remains clear: consumers want bigger and better–all for a good price.

Top 3 merchandising tips

1. Co-promote household paper with complementary products. For example, paper towels with household cleaners, bathroom tissue with bathroom cleaners and paper napkins with picnic items during the summer months, says Metro’s Natalie Valentini.

2. Create buzz with tie-ins. Kruger plays up its support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) during breast cancer awareness month in October with a dedicated CBCF tissue box and breast cancer awareness ribbons on the Sponge-Towel print. Kruger’s Steven Turner says these products see a sales spike each October. Similarly, every April

Seventh Generation creates Earth Month-related displays touting its green products.

3. Squash consumer confusion. Build displays that give product benefits. Cascades sees sales climb when it runs displays that show eco-benefits such as the way some of its products are produced using 80% less water than the industry standard. “Consumers are fed up with being told to be environmentally careful without being given concrete information on how,” says Cascades’ Jocelyne Pinsonneault.

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