andrex ad

Sales: £350.3m (-5.5%)

With the bottom falling out of the toilet paper category thanks to ramped up deals and strong growth for own label and the discounters, it’s perhaps no surprise that sales of Britain’s biggest loo roll brand are going down the pan.

Andrex has lost £20.3m and shifted 3.8 million (3%) fewer units in the past year, thanks to the growing competition and significant shelf space losses in Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Now Kimberly-Clark is fighting back by ditching its traditional marketing focus on the quality of the product (‘soft, strong and long’), and going down a slightly more risqué route, emphasising how clean the brand can get users’ bottoms.

“We need to reframe the category from being a bulk paper commodity to unleash inherent value and change the way consumers see the category,” says Karel Van Der Mandele, Kimberly-Clark marketing director for UK family care.

So Andrex put the ‘clean routine’ on its packs and launched an ad campaign pushing both its Classic White and Gentle Clean Washlets and asking kids how clean they feel after using the products. The ads appear to be paying off, for the moist toilet paper at any rate. Value sales of Gentle Clean Washlets rose 637% in 2015 to £2.9m with an extra 2.3 million packs sold.

And with moist paper currently bought by just a fifth of households, Van der Mandele says Andrex will clean up if it can convince more shoppers to give Washlets a try. “Once people start using Washlets they spend 45% more in the total category,” he adds.

There’s more reason for optimism, with sales having picked up later in the year as retailers reinstated some of the brand’s lost space after suffering significant category deflation. “The retailer support plan was back-weighted to the second half of the year,” says Van Der Mandele.