Japanese design could promote growth in Western toilet tissue, by Euromonitor International
Western manufacturers should examine the Japanese toilet tissue market to see how to grow sales in a mature market.
Western toilet tissue markets have stagnated in volume and value terms. In contrast, and despite years of recession, Japan has seen growth of 1.3% in 2005, making it the world's fourth largest market, according to Euromonitor International
Creativity is fundamental
The main driver behind this growth has been a focus on premium products. Euromonitor International's data indicates that premium toilet tissue grew by 1.7% in 2005, driven by new launches including Crecia Corporation's Scottie with floral fragrance. Innovation has been key to this growth; while aisles in Western markets are mainly made up of white, unscented paper, the Japanese market is awash, with colour, fragrance, lotion-impregnation and print designs which are the norm, not the exception.
Japanese consumers have a strong preference for toilet paper that is aesthetically appealing and serves a decorative function. Consumers tend to focus on presentation of the products rather the European affinity with the paper texture. Until recently, toilet paper in Japan, even luxury toilet paper, was only available in single or double-ply versions. It was not until 2004 that 3-ply toilet roll was released by local paper giant Oji Nepia. Manufacturers also put a lot of effort into packaging design, and it's not unusual to see packaging featuring photo images of animals such as seal pups, rabbits and polar bears.
Western producers take note
The Japanese tissue market recovery is expected to continue, growing by over 6% during the period 2005-2010 to an overall size of US$1.7 billion. And we predict, the luxury sub-segment growth will continue to outpace that of the rest of the market, growing by a CAGR of 2% during the period.
Traditionally consumer perception in Japan has been that cheap products tend to be of inferior quality; so Japanese products have developed multi-functionality with aesthetics and health and wellbeing properties being paramount. Western manufacturer can drive growth by implementing some Japanese design philosophy in toilet tissues.
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