DTC Growth Teardown: Toilet Paper

Marco Marandiz
Sep 23 · 5 min read

I was digging into a couple DTC toilet paper brands, but honestly the market view and positions in the space got me hype.

So here are my thoughts on:

💰the $31B US toilet paper industry

✉️a few DTC brands

🌲sustainability as a brand identity

🏪a couple retail incumbents

So, unsurprisingly, cutting down trees to make toilet paper is not the best thing for the environment.

And a bunch of DTC toilet paper brands are using this as a differentiator to connect with customers, playing towards the eco friendly “save the forests” angle.

☝️That story features @WhoGivesACrapTP. They’re the most prominent DTC brand in the space. Besides the convenience of delivering to your home, a major dimension of their messaging is eco-friendliness & sustainability.

Made from recycled paper. Not packaged in single use plastic.

Really straightforward products here — no plush, quilted, or ultra soft versions.

I really like the individually wrapped TP rolls, but IMO the recycled TP isn’t nearly as soft as its incumbent competitors like Angel Soft and Charmin.

Okay, so here’s where sustainability as a brand dimension forces me to ask-

Can sustainable TP save the forest in any meaningful way? Almost certainly not. It’s a $30 BILLION industry. TP brands would effectively need to re-direct $30B dollars of purchasing *behavior*. Like now.

It’s a nice notion, but without a business model and marketing plan that can realistically enact that change, DTC TP is not going to save those forests.

For example, Who Gives A Crap uses 50% of their profits to build toilets for those in need. It’s pretty cool, but it also slows their growth — growth that would save more trees.

Maybe I’m too idealistic.

These companies still have a lot of growth ahead of them, including selling into SMBs that don’t use commercial sized rolls.

If a brand like @hellotushy blew up, they would have a realistic shot at having an impact on deforestation for toilet paper. Great company, but I’ll save them for a later thread.

Oooh okay — I like @heybippy. The brand doesn’t lean too heavy into sustainability, but just mentions it. They’re trying to be a fun brand that also doesn’t destroy forests.

.@reelpaperco has a more expected DNVB vibe, sells sustainable bamboo toilet paper, and donates a biodegradable toilet for *every roll* you buy.

Idk how the economics work there, but that’s a new angle to market.

If I were at Reel, I’d allow customers to buy a biodegradable toilet (at a premium so that more can be donated). I think people might just buy it out of curiosity, even if they never plan to use it.

Also, check out Peach. This is sooo far from their competitors’ approaches, which is why I find it interesting. They don’t talk about sustainability. They just sell a luxury/premium product.

Their website could use work, but you gotta love the line “Wipe Like Royalty”.

Another brand that has a shot at changing our culture around TP is @Goodwipes.

They position their wipes as not only for the bathroom, but for taking with you throughout your day (and for other various activities).

Wet wipes as lifestyle product.

🚨Incumbent alert!🚨Let’s take a look at the toilet paper market leaders. These are many decades old brands with massive reach.

.@AngelSoft actually has a DTC operation running. I wouldn’t be surprised if this UI or digital brand hasn’t been updated in over 5 years.

Huge opportunity for them to continue leading by growing DTC channels. Ignoring the ecological impact, Angel Soft could secure their market position for decades to come.

Will they actually spend the million req’d to build out their DTC experience? I doubt it.

.@Charmin on the other hand is a retail product through and through. Their digital experience is hard to look at for too long.

I’m surprised that Procter & Gamble hasn’t spent money on reviving Charmin for the modern DTC market. Especially for a holding company that is scooping up DTC brands and understands the value of being relevant in the shifting ecosystem.

They have a huge opportunity to take a strong and prominent American brand into millennial households. The Charmin Bears are filled with nostalgic brand equity.

Shoot your shot, Charmin.

Marco Marandiz

Written by

DTC Strategist // Consultant at Marandiz & Co., Strategist at 2PM. Ex Product @HomeAway @CapitalOne @CastroPodcasts

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