Luxury toilet paper a suprise hit with Taiwanese consumers 消費M型化 三層衛生紙熱賣

Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 14

In Taiwan, which variety of toilet paper currently sells the best? The answer may not be the one you were expecting. Household sanitary paper manufacturers have this year discovered that 3-ply toilet tissue has emerged as a force to be reckoned with within the market, with sales volumes jumping 20 percent. Toilet tissue impregnated with balsam and forest-friendly, recycled alternatives have all exhibited strong sales performance. The industry is speculating that Taiwan is gradually moving toward becoming an M-shaped society, as consumer purchasing power becomes more polarized.

Household sanitary paper manufacturers have discovered that 3-ply loo paper is selling like hot cakes. For example, for US wholesaler Costco, in addition to its own-brand Kirkland toilet paper, other 3-ply offerings from Kleenex and established brand May Flower, have all been selling well. According to papermaking conglomerate YFY, although 2-ply toilet paper still constitutes the bulk of the market, sales volumes of 3-ply have been gradually increasing, with some lines becoming best-sellers. Papermakers are now rushing to ramp up production and supply of 3-ply.

According to YFY, in 2016 sales revenue for 3-ply toilet paper totalled NT$870 million but broke the NT$1billion mark last year: a year-on-year increase of nearly 19 percent and 16 percent market share.

This year, YFY launched a premium 3-ply version of its flagship May Flower toilet paper to appeal to consumers who demand a superior quality feel and softness. Cheng Loong Corp, which markets a top-of-the-range 3-ply extra-thick, 50-percent-more-absorbent toilet paper under the Andante brand, has seen a 20 percent increase in sales of the product since the beginning of this year.

As for the cause of mushrooming sales of 3-ply toilet paper, the industry believes Taiwan’s consumer market is becoming “M-shaped.” Although many Taiwanese consumers still count every penny, consumers on the right lobe of the “M” curve attach a greater degree of importance to quality, the environment and functionality, and are willing to fork out more cash to buy products perceived to be of a higher quality.

(Liberty Times, translated by Edward Jones)







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M-shaped Society

The M-shaped Society is a term originally coined by the Japanese economist Kenichi Ohmae. Ohmae observed that Japanese society had become polarized into the extreme rich and the extreme poor, with a shrinking middle class caught in between, in what he termed an “M-shaped” distribution.

In a “normal” distribution pattern in a developed, modern society, the middle class generally forms the bulk of the society.

With the emergence of the M-shaped society, however, this middle class is much reduced, being assimilated into the two lobes of the M-shape either side of it, and gradually disappears. As a result of this process, the middle class no longer forms the bulk of the society.

Another feature of the M-shaped society, and one which contributes to the maintenance of the shape, is the difficulty for people in the middle class to ascend the social ladder and join the upper class. Most of them will gradually sink to the lower-income group.

(Edward Jones, Taipei Times)