Moistened Toilet Paper Wipes Out

Apr 17, 2002

Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes sales are disappointingly confined to a regional market a year after its introduction, and are so small they aren’t financially material, say Kimberly-Clark Corp. executives.

Part of the problem lies with marketing mistakes, reports The Wall Street Journal. Kimberly-Clark never covered the basics such as showing consumers what the product does in its advertising. Also, it failed to design Rollwipes in small trial sizes. Instead, it had scheduled a van, outfitted with a mobile restroom and Rollwipes, to stop at public places in the Southeast. The road-trip ended with the events of September 11.

Another strike for people already bashful about buying the product, Rollwipes come in a contraption that is immediately visible in a bathroom. “You do not want to have to ask someone to redecorate your bathroom,” says Tom Vierhile, president of Marketing Intelligence Service Ltd., a Naples, N.Y.-firm that tracks product introductions.

At the core, though, the failure of Rollwipes to catch on shows how hard it is for marketers to invent, or reinvent, household staples. As seen in recent attempts to launch contraptions for home dry-cleaning and water purifying have fallen flat.

Moderator Comment: Is there a national market for a Rollwipes type of product? What will it take for a successful new product introduction in this category?

If memory serves, from a previous project we worked on,
a large percentage of consumers (especially older ones, no joke) are already
using wet wipes or wetting bath tissue. The market for this type of product
is there. Cleaning up (go ahead and groan) in it requires better execution from
manufacturers than has been seen to date. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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