There are many things that really make me wonder just how dumb marketing people think we are. Take toilet paper, for instance. Most paper is sold in rolls that are advertised with catch lines like “1000 sheets,” “750 Super Big and Fluffy sheets,” or “more sheets than you can shake a stick at.” The problem occurs when you examine the sheets. They usually are square. That’s approximately 4 inches by 4 inches. I don’t know about you, but I never used one sheet at a time, except in the direst of emergencies. Yet they still make, market and sell it by the sheet.
Good serration is a must in toilet paper. I learned that serration is the term used for the place were toilet paper, and I suppose paper towels, is pre-cut for easier tearing. There are few things as frustrating as paper that won’t tear straight, whether it be toilet paper or paper towels. Still, I know why they make the sheets so small. They want to have the most sheets, but use the least amount of paper.
You can hear the pitch person now. “Super Fluff has the most sheets, 7,547, of any leading national brand.”
The fact that the sheets are less than an inch wide is completely beside the point. We buy it in like it is going out of style. Granted toilet paper ranks up there with things I consider necessities, up there with water, college football, Panama City, and a good steak. The fact remains that there is a tight market for what type of paper to buy. I actually overheard the following exchange at the store the other day. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Husband: “Why are you getting that brand of paper, it costs seven cents more?”
Wife: “It has 7,547 sheets, the most of any leading national brand.”
Which leads me to another very interesting observation. Women are much more swayed by most advertising than men are. Women can be bought off with the simplest of ruses. Put a puppy in an ad and women are rushing to buy one of whatever it is. Put a baby in the ad and women will want to buy stock in that company. Put both in and women will sell their own children to get more of the product.
Men, on the other hand, buy on two very important and distinctive instincts. Price and which ever is the first thing we see. That doesn’t hold true for important things like tires, tools or toilet paper, of course. You have to be particularly picky about those things. However, send us to the grocery store for food or laundry detergent, and we will come back with the pre-opened bag of Chris Farley sized potato chips, the five gallon jug of Uncle Jessie’s cut rate, always gets em clean and smellin’ fresh on the fifth wash detergent, smashed bread from the day old rack and a five pound pack of designer cheese nips. Each of these things is technically what we went for, but my guess is that women would never end up with any of these things.
But back to toilet paper (please forgive such an unfortunate pun). Who actually uses just one sheet. No one! If they did, we would all know. Believe me.
So the toilet paper people are using the same trick on us that the candy bar people do. They advertise that they have not had any price increases for years, as the average size of a candy bar shrinks to almost nothing. Meanwhile, they are selling a “king sized” bar that was the same size as the original old bar, but for twice the price. Eventually, the old bar disappears and we are buying the new bar, which is the same size as the original old bar, for twice the price of the original old bar. Got it? Want to buy a used car? How about stock in Hershey’s?
The fact remains that we are fickle people that crave change and excitement. Otherwise, why would soaps need to be new and improved every six months? If they are so improved, did they ever work? If they didn’t, I hope no one has been shaking hands with the people that only use on sheet of toilet paper at a time.
Hmmmm. Maybe new and improved soap is not such a bad thing after all.