A 2008 study commissioned by Quilted Northern bathroom tissue provided valuable marketing insights. It also offered a look into the male and female psyches, such as they evaluate bathrooms, bathroom decorating ideas and those leaky fixtures.
Behind the Bathroom Study
When Quilted Northern(1) contemplated the introduction of three-ply tissue, it commissioned a study to determine the target demographic’s – affluent women over the age of 45 – readiness to bear the extra cost. In the course of the study that was appropriately entitled “Why Women Need Plush“(2), researchers found out that bathrooms in general hold a certain fixation for the female mind.
Of Bathrooms and Bathroom Fixtures
A study sample of 500 men and 500 women submitted online answers to a number of bathroom related questions. Some findings were to be expected; for example, 66 percent of women (as compared to 54 percent of men) found a lack of cleanliness to be the most distressing portion of a public restroom experience.
Somewhat surprising were the findings that 63 percent of the polled women avoided using the restroom in some peoples’ homes, simply because it is not up to their standards of cleanliness. One third copped to checking out the medicine cabinet’s content at a host’s home and three in 10 suggested that they would never address any bathroom problems with their hosts.
Sixty-four percent of women (as compared to 48 percent of men) worried how others would judge their own bathrooms. Not surprisingly, women are more likely than men to carefully select liquid hand soap, quality toilet paper, lotions, candles and decorative hand towels. (These are also the items women generally see as “basics” when judging the look and feel of someone else’s bathroom.)
It is interesting to note that reading material and a sound system were the two items that mattered more to men than women. Women are consistently more willing to spend extra money on bath rugs or mats, while bathroom fixtures (such as shower heads) are some of the improvements when men and women were most likely to see eye to eye.
A Man’s Bathroom?
What Quilted Northern might not have anticipated – considering its target group – was the fact that men surpassed women in their judgmental attitudes concerning toilet paper.
While 60 percent of women (as opposed to 48 percent of men) avoided using other peoples’ bathrooms if they featured a dirty toilet, 20 percent of men (versus 12 percent of women) avoided using the bathroom if the host supplied poor quality toilet paper. In addition, 17% of men (versus 16 percent of women) avoided using bathrooms that featured low flow toilets.
Bathroom Fixation or Bona Fide Psychology?
Were the women who participated in the bathrooms study merely housewives who would do anything for a Quilted Northern coupon? Were the participating men unable to type in the Sears website address to look at tools? The answer is a resounding ‘no.’ In fact, the psychology of bathroom behavior is well known and studied.
Take for example a 1999 Sarasota Herald-Tribune article(3) that deals with bathroom psychology. Quoting psychologist Dr. Barbara Farrell, the publication asserts that a bathroom provides some valuable clues about the owner’s personality.
Some findings suggest that an overly organized and well-stocked bathroom hints at control issues, while an overage of mirrors points to a vain personality or one with a hankering for exhibitionism. Hang the toilet paper so that the paper feeds over the top, the odds are good you are outgoing. Hang the paper the other way around and you might be a suspicious sort.
(1)Quilted Northern. “Frequently Asked Questions” (accessed April 22, 2010)
(2)Emily Post. “Why Women Need Plush” (accessed April 22, 2010)
(3)Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “When Tissue is an Issue” (accessed April 22, 2010)