How Colored Toilet Paper Elevated an Everyday Item to a Luxury Product


Posted on May 3, 2016

The Reinvention of Colored Toilet Paper

Colored toilet paper first became popular in North America in the 1970s, offering up a range of pale pinks, blues, greens, and yellows. But just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone and no one is quite sure why. Since then, the toilet paper aisle has largely been a wall of white. So when Renova introduced its first colored toilet papers in the early 2000s, it left an impression. A far cry from the shy pastels of years gone by, Renova’s colored papers are bold, bright, and daring, ranging from red to fuchsia to blue to, most notably, black. “In a design sense,” Paulo Miguel Pereira da Silva, president of Renova, says that black signals “irreverence, maybe touching a bit on the core nature of art, which is to break rules and set new ones. Culturally, deep down, Renova Black invites people to break down whatever might be limiting as common sense ideas.”2 The idea that toilet paper can be more than an essential household product and become a design object that harnesses the power of color psychology is groundbreaking. It also appears to be true. “They’ve really got people talking about a product that might otherwise go without attention,” says Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business. “What colored toilet paper shows you is you can make anything remarkable, anything worthy of discussion.”3

Indeed, Renova’s colored toilet papers have been discussed in everything from celebrity gossip blogs to the pages of the New York Times. “Why stock your bathroom with boring white 2-ply when you can treat your tush to luxury European bath tissue in sophisticated black, orange, red or green?” asks Remodelista.4 Meanwhile, Beyonce is said to request the red on her tour rider, Kris Jenner uses the black, and fashionable hotels around the world are requesting their own unique labeling for their Renova supply. From a social perspective, it is a phenomenon and from a business perspective, it is considered one of the most impressive cases of avante-garde marketing in recent history. “With zero marketing investment, Renova completely changed the rules of the category and turned a very boring product, one that most people would never talk about in public, into something fun and interesting; almost a work of art,” says Pierre Chandon, professor of marketing at INSEAD.5

Maintaining Color Quality

When a product relies on color for its identity, color quality control must be a top priority at every stage of the manufacturing process to satisfy consumer demand for consistent, accurate colors. On-line spectrophotometric instruments offer continuous color monitoring at key phases of production to ensure that every product maintains correct coloration. In the case of colored toilet paper, this means monitoring the color of the paper both before and after dyeing to create the perfect hue every time.

HunterLab’s SpectraTrend HT is one of the most sophisticated on-line spectrophotometers in the world, providing real-time, non-contact measurement of your product within the process line, allowing you to obtain accurate, precise data without disrupting the manufacturing process. The SpectraTrend’s integrated height measurement means that this remarkable instrument can accurately capture color data regardless of surface texture and eliminate the need for time-consuming sample preparation. By instantly alerting you to unwanted color changes, you are able to immediately identify and quarantine out-of-spec product, ensuring that only the highest quality products are released into the marketplace. Simultaneously, color data may be used to take corrective action and make permanent process improvements, facilitating efficacy and helping you realize cost-savings. With a compact footprint, versatile connectivity options, and user-friendly design, the SpectraTrend HT is easily integrated within any manufacturing facility.

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