My first job was selling toilet paper. I was 6 years old and my dad referred to me as his “secret weapon.” I spent my Saturday mornings working at a flea market booth with him and would walk up and down the aisles through the crowds yelling in my tiny voice, “five rolls for a dollar!” Doesn’t that just make you want to buy toilet paper? The people who bought toilet paper from me did so because I was cute and they knew the story; not because our toilet paper was high quality or low price.
I recognize that it’s necessary to be somewhat sensitive in your storytelling when discussing things like hygiene, but none of the current American toilet paper brands are cutting it. An incredible amount of research goes into understanding the decision-making process for toilet paper consumers but the storytelling with cute puppies and cartoon characters simply doesn’t connect with me. If your story doesn’t connect, is it even worth telling? Toilet paper consumers buy for different reasons; for price, quality, or softness. But there is one overarching reason for this particular consumable: need. When you think about buying toilet paper it’s either because you need it now, or you will need it in the future. True brand loyalty is built with storytelling that connects and compels action. So what will compel a consumer to buy one brand over another when the reason for buying is so elemental? The story!
Great Brands Tell Great Stories
Think of the stories you can tell from memory about Harley-Davidson, Red Bull, Apple or Nike. These brands are epic storytellers and have taken up space in the hearts of their customers because of it. That is the real reason brands need storytelling. Stories make you fall in love. Stories go beyond the old stuffy and impersonal marketing ideals of reach and touch. Stories create connection. Connection over time leads to love and loyalty. This is as true for brands as it is for humans. It was that connection that brought people back to the flea market each week to buy toilet paper from me.
Perhaps you believe that great story telling can’t be done with something like toilet paper. Au contraire! The French toilet paper company Le Trefle is storytelling its way into the hearts of consumers on both sides of the pond with a comical tale about marriage. This story gets to the heart of toilet paper consumption: need.
It doesn’t matter what the product is. What matters is the story that the brand tells on its behalf. There are great stories out there. Go find them! Or… create one of your own.