Since the dawn of time humanity’s struggled with one major problem over all others: How to make going to the bathroom as pleasant as possible. First we created outhouses. Then indoor plumbing. But now it seems Americans have found the ultimate solution to going number two: Luxury toilet paper.
The Washington Post recently reported that luxury toilet paper sales in the United States, which is defined as “anything quilted, lotioned, perfumed or ultra-soft, from to- to four-ply,” have grown more than any other product in the industry. Last year Americans spent $1.4 billion to pamper their behinds, which is a 70 percent increase since 2000.
The growth in luxury toilet paper linked very closely to the economy. The last two fancy TP booms occurred in 2000 and 2005, both boom years for the United States. The segment’s also expected to grow 9 percent over the next five years.
A spokesperson for Quilted Northern and Angel Soft told the Post, “Even in a down market, people want a little bit of luxury. They may not be able to take a spa vacation. But they can make their home a little bit more spa-like.”
Toilet paper companies are very aware of this growing trend. Cottonelle’s new “CleanRipple” design is supposedly so luxurious and effective users can “go commando.” Could this be a situation where luxury toilet paper makes underwear obsolete, just like iPods destroyed Walkmans?
The big question is where will the luxury toilet paper go from here? Will we live in a world where eight-ply toilet paper is as common as napkins by 2020? Will people start dropping hundreds of dollars for a single roll of toilet paper? Possibly. After all, people are always looking to save their own ass.
Joseph Misulonas is an editorial assistant for Playboy.com. He can be found on Twitter at @jmisulonas.