In the last eight days, there have been stories in the Wall Street Journal, Slate, the New York Post, on MSN.com, CNBC.com, and even in the Jewish Journal reporting that Charmin has introduced its Forever Roll.
The innovation from Procter & Gamble’s venerable brand holds so much toilet paper it could last a “typical” person two or three months, according to the company.
The Forever Roll comes in two sizes. Kayleigh, a customer service rep who shows up for online chats on the Charmin Forever website, told me a one-user household roll is about 8.7 inches in diameter (as opposed to the typical five-incher you probably use now). A multiuser roll has a 12-inch diameter.
These days, when you order online, the “starter kit” comes with a stainless steel pedestal toilet paper holder.
Media reviews for the Forever Roll are mostly all thumbs-up.
Gabriella Paiella, writing for New York magazine’s The Cut, enthused: “As far as silly millennial-targeted marketing goes, this is pretty spot on — we live alone in small rentals because we can’t afford to buy real estate, we’re constantly working so we have limited time to run errands, and we LOVE using the bathroom.”
Her piece was titled “I Love And Support The Giant Toilet Paper Roll for Millennials.”
Other, calmer stories have also appeared in USA Today and the New York Daily News.
For people who write about marketing, stories about somewhat-ridiculous-sounding products can take on a patina of high-mindedness if there’s sociology behind it. With the Forever Roll, there is!
The Wall Street Journal story last week showed how marketers are now going after the growing number of one-person households with smaller servings and other items that “fit” smaller households. A lot of them are millennials (or younger), along with older Americans.
And many of those people want convenience. Though you might not think so (or maybe you emphatically understand), a roll of toilet paper that lasts “forever,” is the Park Avenue of convenience.
Younger consumers also seem to be turned on to things that can be ordered online and delivered to their door. Right now, that’s the only way you can get a Forever Roll.
The Wall Street Journal reported that marketers are discovering anew that both young and old empty-nesters will often pay for convenience like a big roll of T.P., or for fewer food servings per package so they don’t end up throwing away the portions they didn’t eat.
(This isn’t the first time marketers have tapped this market, sometimes awkwardly. In the early 1980s, comedian Elayne Boosler joked about forlorn singles reading the side panel on a can of Campbell's Soup for One: "Directions: Heat it up, don't heat it up. Who cares? You're alone.")
The WSJ reported, “Today, 35.7 million Americans live alone, 28% of households. That is up from 13% of households in 1960 and 23% in 1980, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Delayed or foregone marriage, longer life expectancy, urbanization and wealth have contributed, demographers say.”
P&G’s Rob Reinerman, innovation director for its family-care business, noted in the WSJ that people complain about places to store toilet paper in their single-size small apartments. They also seem irked they have to remember to restock. So, yes, there’s even a subscription plan for the Forever Roll.