Wet Wipes: What Went Wrong?
My buddy and I were gently gliding our cart through the local supermarket when we came upon the toilet paper aisle. We stopped. The one rickety wheel that wasn't touching the shiny tile rocked back and forth, like a pendulum. We both stared at something neither of had ever before seen: moist toilet wipes. Sure, we had both seen similar items -- but only for babies. Never before had we seen adult wet wipes.
It was the fall of 2001. The wet wipes craze was about to begin. Soon, hoped both Proctor and Gamble and Kimberly-Clark, sphincters everywhere
Charmin Fresh Mates Rolls
Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes
They were wrong. The year is 2005 and today no one uses wet wipes.
In the beginning of 2001, Kimberly-Clark Corp announced its plans to launch what they called "America's first wet, flushable toilet paper on a roll," the Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes. That summer, Proctor & Gamble dropped the bomb that they were bringing their own wet wipes on a roll to market -- Charmin Fresh Mates Rolls, a product based on the acquisition of a wet-wipes-on-a-roll offering called MoistMates that had been sold in a few regional stores since the mid-90s. It was going to be an all out corporate war for the right to make our asses wet.
In essence, both products were extremely similar. Supposedly the Fresh Rollwipes were made with smaller fibers and broke down better in toilets; truth be known, they both broke down about the same. Still, 2001 was set to be a banner year for any shit-smith such as myself. We would now have the choice between regular, dry 90-grit toilet paper and touchably smooth wet wipes. The choices were endless -- should I get the regular wet wipes or should I get the wet wipes with moisturizer? Should I get the regular toilet paper or the scented, colored paper? As if we didn't have enough decisions to make in this world, now we had to contemplate even more for our bung.
One thing was clear: both companies were expecting tons of asses to be wiped with their new wet wipes. The roll idea, said Kimberly-Clark, was to be "the most significant category innovation since toilet paper first appeared in roll form in 1890." Initial forecasts were upwards of $150 million in sales for the first year and over $600 million annually after six. Both companies cited ample market research for their decisions -- according to Proctor & Gamble, nearly 2/3rds of Americans had used some form of moist towel for cleansing purposes.
Price on the Fresh Mates Rolls was $8.99. For your nine dollars, you got a big beige gadget that fit into your standard toilet paper dispenser, and four refills. Kimberly Clark countered with a $2.49 kit with one refill. And so the stage was set for the big launch.
Butt: it never happened. The proverbial shit never hit the fan. The wet wipes craze turned out to be a big pile of used toilet paper.
To quote John Kirkpatrick in the Dallas Morning News in 2003: "Two corporate giants have been trying to change America's bathroom habits in the last couple of years. But like a two-year-old who rebels against potty training, consumers have stubbornly resisted."
The American public kept wiping with dry paper. Shit chutes everywhere were quoted as saying, "I like the dry stuff. If you like the wet wipes so much then you fucken use 'em."
And so the people had spoken. Over a five-year period, millions of advertising dollars were flushed down the crapper just like the wipes they were trying to sell. Armed with rolls of market research, these corporations tried to figure out what went wrong. Some people, they learned, did indeed want to wipe their asses with moist, sweet smelling wipes.
But the product "was ahead of its time." Others blamed the American people, saying we were just too shy to try something new.
After it was all said and done, both P&G and Kimberly-Clark dropped a deuce on the whole wet wipe craze. They are both still carrying the products, but not in such a wide array as they did 2001. Neither of their products are sold on rolls anymore. Kimberly-Clark's Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes, for instance, only come in a tub -- now they just call them Cottonelle Fresh.
I got to thinking about why they never really caught on. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of having a slick ass crack, so I have always passed on using any type of wet wipe. I have yet to find a piece of dry toilet paper that couldn't accommodate my posterior. No matter how bad the defecation, dry toilet paper has never let me down. Sure, it has left my rectum bloody and sore; but never encrusted with crap.
Even though they're still being marketed, I have never seen an adult version of wet wipes in anyone's house. I have seen the child ones, but only in places where there are children. My good buddy, who has two small shit machines, has a stack of these things sitting in his garage. He's ready for WWIII to break out. If the shit ever hits the fan, he'll be there with the wet wipes to clean up the mess. (Incidentally, he has the grape scent. I agree that a child will be more apt at wiping his pooper if the wet wipes smelled of something good. But grape? Who wants their ass to smell like grape? I can see a mountain spring, or maybe Old Spice. But grape?)
So why didn't the wet wipes every catch on? Were consumers just too reluctant to spend the extra money on wet wipes? Or was it the embarrassment factor -- maybe people were just too shy to have a roll of wet wipes installed next to their commode? Or could it be my reason: no one likes a slick ass crack? Fellow PoopReporters, you tell me. Proudly wave your soiled wad of toilet paper in the air if you approve or disapprove of wet wipes.
In this PoopReporter's brown eye, there's no room for wet wipes in my bathroom. It's the dry way or the highway.