Bulk may be the biggest news in bathroom tissue, but quality and texture innovations are also impacting the category.
The ultra segment -- a thicker, more plush tissue -- is continuing its pattern of growth. Over the last three years, its sales have increased from $3.4 million to $124 million, according to scan data from ACNielsen, Schaumburg, Ill.
"There is some customer acceptance to the ultra," said Peter Jost, grocery buyer, Harps Food Stores, Springdale, Ark. "It's a segment that's still growing." Jost also attributed part of the ultra segment's success to the growing ranks of older Americans who are more inclined to purchase premium bathroom tissue.
On the West Coast, a large number of consumers are demanding "natural" types of paper, such as brands that are undyed, nonperfumed or made from recycled paper. "We're starting to expand the category to include all the post-consumer products," said Matt Buckman, general buyer at Draeger's Supermarkets, Menlo Park, Calif. Carl Willoughby, assistant general manager at Ream's Food Stores, Salt Lake City, noticed a similar trend in bathroom tissue sales. "Because of all the publicity of the infections caused by the dyes, our colored sales are way down," he said.
But the natural trend has not boosted sales of bathroom tissue made with baking soda. Most retailers told SN that the baking soda segment has not found its niche yet.
Steve Applebaum, buyer, Rainbow Foods, Hopkins, Minn., told SN that baking soda bathroom tissue is just a fad.