We consumers are a strange bunch. One minute we are buying in a predictable way, at the usual times and in the usual patterns. Then, boom! Suddenly the world changes seemingly overnight and consumers take drastic and unusual shopping actions.
In this case, what was once a stable item – toilet paper – became a hot product in high demand as the coronavirus hit the U.S. According to Nielsen, in the first week of social distancing guidelines, toilet paper demand increased 120% versus the same time last year. Customers began buying toilet paper in bulk and ratcheted up hoarding of the commodity product. This type of reaction is not uncommon during times of stress when consumers feel a need to control at least one aspect of their lives.
Why the shortage though? In part, it is because toilet paper manufacturing and distribution flows through an efficient, tightly-controlled supply chain. Since it is a bulky product to ship and shelve, retailers keep low inventory on-hand and depend on frequent shipments to replenish stock.
On average, the volume a household consumes toilet paper is about 141 rolls per year. But, during the current crisis, consumers are going through more toilet paper at home since more people are working at home and not venturing out to restaurants, retailers, and other out-of-home events.
Be kind. Share.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the elements in the supply chain and marketing channel.
- Diagram the supply chain and marketing channel for toilet paper.
- Show a brief video about toilet paper supply chain: https://youtu.be/By2mmIUzG-w
- Another video choice: https://youtu.be/NiQKvfo3l94
- View Cottonelle’s Web site and it’s plea for kindness and sharing: https://www.cottonelle.com/en-us/share-a-square
- Where are the stress points in the supply chain and marketing channel?
- What can be done to better produce and manage products such as toilet paper during times of crisis?
Source: Ad Week; Associated Press; Nielsen Research; Wall Street Journal; other news sources
Tide Pods were a revolution when they launched in 2012 and have since spawned a new look for many detergent and soaps as pods took over the laundry room. But what’s next? Could P&G top the Tide Pod craze? Perhaps. And the answer may be in producing a new product line without using a key ingredient – water.
The innovative products are not in the old soap and detergent forms; instead, they come in small swatches that look like fabric, but foam when water is added during washing and cleaning. The new product form substantially reduces the size and weight of detergents, making them lighter and smaller to package, ship, and store. There are eight types: hand soap, face wash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, surface cleaner, and toilet cleaner.
Think about it. Instead of carrying home (or shipping) a gallon of detergent that can weight upwards of eight pounds, the new product can be carried home in a small box that weighs ounces, and is packaged in biodegradable boxes. This new size would allow P&G to sell direct to consumers. Pricing is higher than standard products though. A box of 60 body wash swatches are $19, while laundry detergent costs $29 for 30 swatches (compared to 81-pack of Tide Pods at $19).
One remaining topic is how to brand and name the new product line. It is currently being called EC30. P&G is still considering whether to create a new brand, or use another well-known P&G product name.
What is your opinion of the new product line?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
- Show the IndieGoGo campaign that P&G used for proof of concept: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ds3-next-generation-cleaning-for-body-and-home#/
- A video of the product can be found at https://youtu.be/ToPjozrz6ME
- The product can also be found on Web site: https://ds3clean.com/
- For this product, what is the target market? Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc. (Note: Can the product be sold to organizations also?)
- Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
- Poll students: How should P&G brand/name the new product line?
Source: Terlep, S. (22 April 2019). Forget Tide Pods. P&G bets water-free soap ‘swatches’ are the future. Wall Street Journal.