Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Follow-up: A new toilet paper shortage?

with 2 comments

As a brief follow-up to [1]: Monday came and I tried my luck with Aldi. Here I did indeed find the 3-ply paper, and brought home an 8-pack (1600 sheets, 4800 plies; compare with the “Ja!” 4-ply 10-pack at 1500 sheets, 6000 plies). Even with a switch from 10 to 8 rolls, I do better with 3-ply. Moreover, my 8-pack cost me three* Euro, which compares very favorably to the “close to five Euro” of that 10-pack. In the good old days of 2-ply, I might, depending on priorities, have done even better with a 6-pack (!) at 1800 sheets and 3600 plies.

*2.95 or 2.99 or whatnot.

Excursion on consumer resistance:
But is so small an amount of money worth the extra effort? This is open to debate, at least for a single person.* My main motivation is something different, namely that by not buying 4-ply I make it harder for the stores and manufacturers to pull the artificially created switch to 4-ply.** If consumers were to even semi-consistently push against disputable methods, these would be less attractive to stores/manufacturers and the lives of consumers would be easier. Imagine, for instance, that many were to follow my example and deliberately avoid products encountered in advertising for some time period—advertisers might now see disappointing gains, no gains, or even a drop in sales as a result of an advertising campaign, which would make the amount of advertising decrease and, in turn, make the world less annoying and prices lower as the need to factor in advertising costs when setting prices is reduced.

*The economics might look very differently with two adults and four children.

**Strictly speaking, I cannot rule out that there was an element of coincidence behind the situation of [1]; however, looking at shelf arrangements and price labels, a deliberate change is the most likely explanation.

(A secondary motivation is that being somewhat price conscious might bring a considerable gain over the sum of all products, even when it does not do so over a single product. Shave, say, 10 percent of the yearly grocery bill and we are talking something noticeable.)

Excursion on comparing toilet papers:
One reason why I have never bothered much with toilet-paper comparisons in the past (let alone put them in writing) is the great problems with such comparisons—I have simply preferred to take the easy way out and, whenever possible, stick to the same brand. Consider that we have at least price, pack-size, number of sheets per roll, number of plies per sheet, the size of each individual sheet/ply,* and, to some degree, quality as core criteria—and then, depending on personal preferences, we might have secondary criteria, e.g. what proportion of the paper stems from recycling and what coloring** or pattering** might have been applied.

*Although I suspect that the differences are too small to bother with in most cases. The width, in particular, is likely to be standardized, to ensure that rolls from different brands fit in the same dispensers. (This might or might not also affect the number of plies, which has been 600 per roll for all the variations mentioned in these two texts.)

**Might influence popularity with many children and some women.

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Written by michaeleriksson

November 21, 2022 at 11:09 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] [1] and [2], I wrote about a potential new toilet-paper shortage and a feared attempt to force customers into […]


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