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Germany’s financial prudence stretches to its preferred toilet paper

Posted By:23/03/2015

Thrifty Germans prefer economy loo roll while Italians are cutting down on luxury tissue. What does toilet paper use tell us about economic behaviour?



Germany’s economic strength – premised on savings, financial prudence and staying well clear of excessive consumption – extends to the nation’s preferred choice of toilet paper.

Germans practice what they preach, according to data from consumer research brand Euromonitor. It reveals that the majority of toilet tissue sales in Germany during 2014 were of the economy type (the typically thinner, cheaper kind with no frills such as added softness).


Different economic outlook extends to the bathroom


Although Italy is mostly a standard toilet tissue nation, consumption of luxury toilet paper (the triple-quilted kind) counted for 27.3% of the market – a larger slice than economy paper.

In a possible indicator of austerity, however, Italians are cutting down on their use of luxury toilet tissues. The size of the luxury market is expected to be 5.4% smaller in 2019 than was in 2009.

This suggests a lacklustre economic outlook. As it stands, unemployment in Italy currently runs at 12.6% compared to Germany’s 4.7% and worries have been raised that Italy may be hit with “contagion” if Greece exits the Euro currency.

Italy’s situation contrasts with the other five economies analysed, where the luxury share is forecast to see a rise over the next ten years – Germany included.

Economy toilet tissue was also the most popular in Germany’s close partner France, though with a considerably lower market share of 39% ($463.4m).

The UK stands out among the European countries in the survey in that only 5.3% of total toilet paper sales were made up from the cheaper brands, attributable to a stoic commitment to standard (mostly two-quilt) loo roll.


Economy to luxury: what a nation’s quilting reveals



Earlier this month, the Washington Post wrote that the rapid rise in sales of luxury brands showed that the US public was feeling increasingly flush.

Spending on products for short-term use is crucial in revealing how confident a country’s population are in their own economic prospects.

Earlier this month, the Institute for Fiscal Studies theorised that the lack of the usual post-crisis upswing in UK spending on non-durable goods – including food, fuel and certainly toilet paper – suggested that people did not expect the good times to last.

In Germany, luxury, recycled and standard brands are set for erratic growth patterns in future years, according to Euromonitor forecasts. However, the popularity of no-frills economy roll will continue on its pretty constant growth rate of about 2% a year.

The luxury loo roll market in Germany is currently about half the size of the $1bn economy market, but is forecast to grow by more than 15% by 2019.

Those Germans who do decide to shell out for a touch of luxury are set to keep doing so for at least the next couple of years. The value of their luxury toilet paper market is higher than that of the other European countries surveyed.

In other words, Germans are going to keep doing what they are doing – confident in how much they can spend on their bathroom tissue. They know they are not throwing their money down the drain.

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