THERE are some categories where consumers are more willing to compromise on quality than others, but household paper does not appear to be one of them.
That’s the message coming through from the household paper firms who have suggested customers visiting convenience stores will expect to find brands they recognise at a wallet-friendly price, and they’ve offered their assessment of how retailers can meet these expectations.
Oday Abbosh, founder and chief executive of Better All Round Ltd, the firm behind kitchen towel brand Ora, reckons when customers seek out paper products, value for money and quality are top of the agenda.
“In general terms the paper product consumer is looking for value, convenience and provenance,” said Abbosh.
“The industry has seen a shift towards larger pack sizes in the toilet tissue sector and larger single rolls in the kitchen towel sector.
PMPs have significant benefits, particularly for independents, as it enables them to reassure shoppers.
“The toilet tissue sector continues to focus on softness and has incorporated cleanliness as an additional brand attribute. Kitchen towel continues to focus on absorbency and strength.”
When it comes to household paper products, Abbosh reckons that the consumer desire for value is driving prices downwards, but warned that as far as larger and larger pack sizes goes, the dam may be set to burst.
“For household paper products the category continues to be hugely competitive with price deflation increasingly becoming a significant factor. Consumers continue to look for value for money.
“Own label continues its highly successful everyday low price strategy with the major brands continuing their frequent and deep price promotions.
“We have seen a continued migration towards larger single roll pack sizes. This increasing size, in terms of sheet count, has continued on an upward trajectory and may soon reach the point of creating rolls that risk being too large for easy handling as well as start to resemble industrial products versus ones designed for the home,” he said.
The priority placed on value combined with quality by customers shopping for household paper products was also highlighted by a spokesman for Kimberley-Clark, the firm behind Andrex and Kleenex.
The company’s spokesman suggested that recognised brand names are key in this regard, with customers expecting to see familiar names when they reach for paper.
“Product quality remains one of the most important factors when consumers are choosing a convenience store, and brand name is the number one attribute that convenience store shoppers use to define a product as being higher quality.
“As a result, branded toilet tissue tends to trade heavily in convenience stores, with branded products representing over 94% of the sector. Andrex remains the toilet tissue brand leader in convenience, accounting for 47.6% of sales,” he said.
On the value side of the equation, price-marked packs still play a vital role according to Kimberley-Clark, with the firm’s spokesman suggesting these are particularly important to convenience.
“Price-marked packs (PMPs) are integral to the toilet tissue category. Within the independent channel, PMP accounts for 64% of all dry toilet tissue sales.
It’s important to make sure retailers are offering a range of both boxes and pocket packs for people on the go.
“PMPs have significant benefits, particularly for independents, as it enables them, for instance, to reassure their shoppers that they are offering value for money from the UK’s number one toilet tissue brand,” he said.
Price-marked packs may help retailers to move some household paper products out the door, but it’s by no means the only sales opportunity the category provides.
According to Kimberley-Clark, the facial tissue category is on the up and up, and as many customers purchasing these products have an immediate need the firm’s spokesman suggested retailers would be wise to take a look at their range and merchandising.
“The facial tissue category is also one of several popular destinations for distress purchases.
“Often people will not know they are going to need a tissue, or be able to plan ahead.
“Therefore it’s important to make sure retailers are offering a range of both boxes and pocket packs for when people are on the go,” he said.
For retailers looking to reassess their facial tissue offer, Kimberley-Clark has provided sales data on where purchases are being made from within the category as well as what kind of products are experiencing an upward swing.
The firm found: “Total Boxes account for 85% of value sales within the total market category although the marginal volume growth (1.3%) is being offset by price deflation resulting in value sales down -1.7%. Pockets volume have increased 6.1% compared to a YA in the total market and is worth £30.7m in value.”