Toilet tissue


Background of Andrex

Toilet tissue, it may be not glamorous, but as an essential household purchase, it is one of the UK's largest grocery product categories. Every year, consumers spend around £815 million on toilet tissue (Brandrepublic, 2003). UK toilet tissue is often used for secondary functions such as make-up removal and nose blowing due to it is generally recognised as the softest in Europe. Nowadays, this whole product category has experienced a great of improvement that become more soft, absorbent and better wet strength (ibit).

Andrex, as the nation's favourite brand of toilet tissue, it remains the brand leader of the market nearly 40 years and consequently become a "household name" (Brandrepublic, 2003). Own by a large manufacturer -- Kimberly-Clark Ltd., Andrex originally started with manufacturing disposable handkerchiefs for gentlemen, which were only dealt exclusively in Harrods. Afterwards, the name was taken from a factory called St Andrews in Walthamstow in which the first batch of tissue was produced in 1942. Before the first appearance of soft tissue such as Andrex in market, the market was mostly composed of harsh products (ibit).

Andrex in U.K market

As a marketing magazine which launched a ranking of "Biggest Brands" in August 2002 reported, Andrex, which was the 6th in the ranking overtook other famous brands as Ariel, Pampers and Robinsons with better sales of over £240 million. The number was only exceeded by some giants such as Coca-Cola. Moreover, according to Persil in 2001, Andrex was listed as the biggest brand in UK's non-food industry (Brandrepublic, 2003).

In order to maintain the leadership in this fast changing world, Andrex needs to have clear decisions about the type of customers to whom they wish to aim their product offerings. Consequently, the understanding of the consumer behaviour is a prerequisite of successful marketing (Jobber, 2008). The objective of this report is critically discusses the influences of consumer behaviour on Andrex marketing activities. In order to limit the scope of the report, all the marketing activities of Andrex are mainly focus on the UK customers and the three aspects of consumer behaviour which will be discuss in this report are perception; Motivation & Value ; reference groups respectively.


Perception is "the process about the selection, organization and interpretation of stimuli by individuals so that they can understand the world" (Fill, 2008, p136). Each day, people are exposed to the world which full of different kinds of stimuli, whatever advertisements or non-commercial stimuli. However, only a small number of the stimuli are ever noticed and "an even smaller number are attended to" (Solomon et al., 2006, p36).

Launched in 1972, the "puppies" advertising campaign for Andrex toilet tissue is still running today which constitutes one of the country's longest-running and most popular advertising campaigns (Wilmshurst & Mackay, 1999).For many years, the advertising has focused around a golden Labrador pup. Gradually, by the later 1980s, the puppy has become a brand icon and successfully establishes the brand-relationships among customers (Antonides & Raaij, 1995).

Peircean semiotics Triad of Andrex

As Solomon (2006) states, when we try to understand the marketing stimulus, we interpreting its meaning by what we make of the symbolism we perceive. Therefore, the study about the semiotics which exam the correspondence between signs and symbols is indispensable to understand consumer behaviour. According to the Peircean semiotics Triad, every marketing message has three basic components: Object, Sign and Interpretant (ibit). When we analysis the marketing message of Andrex, the object of the ads would be the product - Andrex toilet paper. The sign is the message which transferred by the "cute-as-can-be Andrex puppy" about the products features such as softness and strength. These two characteristics can be demonstrated in a similar experiment which Mitchell and Olson used a kitten as an image to compare different perceptions from receiver (Messaris, 1997) that images in advertising firmly appear to create analogy. Receivers' perception of advertising can be guided to a certain category by giving an image which has certain impression, for instance, puppy to cuteness, cowboy to masculine. And at last, the interpretant is the meaning that the advertisements communicate to the recipient, which are highly associated with family-focused brand image.

In the case of Andrex's advertising, the puppy is the main source of audiences' perception which has already mentioned above. However, the scenes in these advertisements also play an indispensible role, for instance, most of the spots are set in family and the actions pan the living room, bathroom etc. Combined with all the elements in the advertisement, Andrex aims to bridge the connection of the advertisements and family.

This prompts us to discuss how the puppies were portrayed in order to build the brand perception.

The role of the Puppy
  • Attention
  • Attention is an important factor in determining the outcome of the interaction (Fill, 2009). As a low-involvement product, toilet paper is perceived as bland and uninteresting, more salient stimuli are needed to capture the attention from target audience. Therefore, rather than simply portray the cuteness puppy in the advertisements; applying humour can be more powerful in this product category (Mintel, 2008). In this case, the Andrex puppy has been setting as a family member and "talking" in every advertisement. Meanwhile, different scenarios have been developed across the whole campaign, based on various products and some seasonal festival/promotions (Figure 8). This kind of humour not only draws attention but also evokes positive feelings that the audience becomes more involved in the scenarios which also helps the message to stick strongly in consumer's mind (Brassington & Pettitt, 2006).

    When the audience becomes more engaged with the advertising, the emotional response relative to the brand occurs at different levels.

  • Emotional bond
  • Emotion, it is regard as the most powerful aspect that could stimulate consumer attitudes towards a brand at the first place. Research shows feeling plays more than 75% on the occasions when consumers make purchases (Wright, 2006). Therefore, marketers nowadays usually attempt to associate their products with certain perceptions, images and emotions which are generally perceived in common (Fill, 2009). The Labrador puppy which has appeared in Andrex ads more than 35 years could be seen as a perfect example of the linkage between brand advertising and emotional bond. As Heath, et al., (2006) stated, the success of Andrex's sales is attributed to the emotional arousal of the puppy in its ads. In order words, the emotional bond in the ads could be more powerful than the messages, for instance, product quality which advertiser tended to express. Therefore, despite as an unglamorous product category, Andrex ads successfully feature puppy which evokes positive emotions with the audiences, and also transfer those feelings to the product. Namely, it can be said that these ads have contributed to break old perception of toilet paper as embarrassing and to establish new ones such as warm, soft and cuddly (Brassington & Pettitt, 2006).

  • Semiotics in advertising
  • "A symbol is a sign that is related to product through purely conventional associations." (Solomon et al, 2006, p52). For marketers, it can be seen as an influential tool to communicate product attribution to consumers. As mentioned early, the puppies' has become inextricably linked with the brand itself, symbolising the core quality of the brand -- softness and strength. Moreover, through the puppies' expression, it added emotional qualities simultaneously - warmth, trust, charm, maternal, safe -so that these qualities can be molded into represent of the brand, an impression of caring motherhood (Wilmshurst & Mackay, 1999).


The toilet paper is classified into low-involvement product; the brand preference is not as strong. However, Andrex builds up a strong semiotics perception towards its brand through the puppy advertising campaign. Undeniable, in this case, the campaign appears to be more focus on building the consumer emotional relationship between the potential user and the brand, rather than imparting specific functional performance about the products. Therefore, in order to reinforce the brand perception, the other parts of the campaign such as the package/product design, price setting as well as company's public relations activities could be implementations of the perception building.

Motivation & Value

Needs recognition

Motivation can be explained as the patterns which affect people behaviour. From a psychological perspective, it is also the driving force for consumers to gratify their needs (Solomon, 2006). As consumable and daily necessities, even in economic downturn, toilet tissue is one product shoppers have proved unwilling to compromise on (Marketing magazine, 2009). As mentioned in last section, the long-lasting advertising campaign has built the strong emotional bond with the principal shopper such as household. The type of housewife who draws up Andrex within their shopping list is likely to be perceived as warm, maternal and good household. Moreover, as a premium brand, Andrex nowadays try to tap into personal-care market since more health-content products have been developed, such as Aloe Vera and Shea butter. This attempt was innovated the market dramatically by creating a different consumer needs that highly appreciated by some marketers recently (Mintel, 2008).

Motivation conflict

However, Andrex nowadays, are facing many challenges since the own label products get better, the cheap competition caused by the false economy, and the difficulties for innovation or differentiation in this category. Consequently, Andrex may encounter a high rate of consumer defection. The approach-avoidance motivational conflict model will be applied to elucidate the purchase decision process in this case.

According to Solomon (2006), consumers often face dilemmas when their desires may result in negative consequence. It means they often have to deal with the conflict of approach-avoidance when what they desire a goal, but wish to avoid at the same time. In this case, Andrex keeps a premium price for many years; some of the healthy core products are even more expensive. At the same time, cheap alternatives are extensively available in this category. Although softness or healthy might be the key brand differentiator in the toilet tissue market, price also remains a determinant for consumers (Mintel, 2008). In order to avoidance high expenditure especially in the economic recession, consumer might turn to other own-label brands to avoid the negative consequences.

As cognitive dissonance theory suggests (Kardes, 2002), when choosing a product which has both negative and positive aspects, consumers will try to increase the positive sides and inverse for the negative aspects due to the fact that people have the need for behaviour-attitude consistency. In other words, "consumers can convince themselves that the behaviour that was performed was the correct behaviour" (Kardes, 2002, p196). Hence, a new marketing communication campaign of Andrex was developed in order to give the motives that buying Andrex is a right choice, your family and the society are deserved a "better" brand.

  • 'Ain't nothing like the real thing' ad
  • In the ads, various puppy toys appeared with the soundtrack 'Ain't nothing like the real thing'. When the real Andrex puppy appears to knock down the other at the end of the ad, it tries make the point of 'There's only one original', and also, transmitting a concept of that "although there may be cheaper alternatives available; there is no substitute for Andrex" (Campaign live, 2008).

  • CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
  • With the growing environmental awareness in the paper market, recycled and non-bleached variants are gaining favour (Mintel, 2008). At this time, Andrex launches its products with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) trademark. It is the first cross-border implementation of applying FSC accreditation in the tissue market, is thought as a strong warrant of its strong sense of responsibilities for sustainable production (Andrex, 2009). Additionally, some other charity tie-in activities have undertaken which linked to Andrex's new positioning of "be kind to your behind". For instance, raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust (2008), Woman cancer charity 'look Good...Feel Better (LGFB)'.

  • Reward-seeking & punishment-avoiding
  • Based on the research of Cotte & Trudel (2009), it appears that consumer response to CSR, which on one hand ethical behaviour will be rewarded, and on the other hand unethical business activity will likely be boycotted. Taking price as illustration, customer will buy the ethical products with premium price tend to reward a company, and oppositely, discounting the value of the products can be seen as punishment for the company which not seen as ethical. Applying to this case, even the price of the products is higher than other alternatives; most people are still wish to buy Andrex.

  • Means-End Chain
  • "Consumer motivations are often driven by underlying values" (Solomon, 2006, p129). As the Means-End Chain theory suggests, consumer tries to link product attributes with particular consequences and also their personal values through the consumption (Kaciak & Cullen, 2006). In this case, whether is Andrex charity tie-in positioning or the environment friendly attempts (e.g. FSC), they are trying to establish the relationship between the product's attributes and individually desired goals via the consequences that usage of the product (Solomon, 2006). The table below shows the linkages in this case.


Presumably, through this series of actives, Andrex hopefully reassures consumer that buying Andrex, you do get what you pay for. However, Andrex needs to understand that as a low-involvement product, the consumers are not motivated to seek out a lot of information when they making a purchase decision. Therefore, the activities have to be delivered efficiently through different communication channels especially packaging, on-shelf stand-out, in-store promotion etc, which could motive consumer just before they break into the section.

Reference Group

As the basic unit of the society, family remains the important social grouping. Even though the structure of families has undergone major changes in recent years, the family is still probably the most powerful in influencing consumer decision-making among all the reference groups (Blythe, 2008). Since the core target audience of Andrex is households with children, Andrex strongly uses this behaviour to manoeuvre one of its consumer promotion to roll out in conjunction with its 2008 "Winter White pack" (Utalkmarketing, 2008).

The influence of Family Life Cycle (FLC)

The family is a flexible concept, and families go through life cycles which could influence the needs and spending priority. Different consumer categories show remarkable differences in consumption patterns (Solomon, 2006). In many cases, when the FCL entering stage 3-parenthood, the family are more likely to make a purchase which collects most family members' opinions especially when it is shared consumption (Blythe, 2008). However, product category affects decision-making process. As the day-to-day shopping category, toilet paper is at the end of the scale which entails very little collective decision-making (ibit). In other words, it means household usually is the decider when purchasing the product in this category. In this content, this could be the reason that the Andrex advertising campaign focuses on building family-based image that aims to influence the decider - householder (which mentioned in the first section).

Nevertheless, as mentioned before, the main target audience of Andrex is households with children; therefore, the influence of children on buying decisions can not be overlooked.

The influence of children on family buying decisions

In the process of purchasing decision-making, children have great impact on their parents and pressure them to make particular purchasing decisions. Pester power which is the pressure from children is enormous that usually enable children to be satisfied from parents (Blythe, 2008). Additionally, in respect of present pre-teen or young teens, they are more influenced and knowledgeable of products since they have increasingly complex media consumption habits (Solomon, 2006).

Since understanding the important role of children, Andrex launched the campaign by building close relationship with children, especially pre-teen or young teens in this case. Therefore, the first thing that Andrex needs to do is to immerse in the world of this new target audience. As Solomon (2006) suggests, today's teenagers in Europe have various information channels. Additionally, there is a rapid adoption of the internet, which not just online shopping, but also as an important tool of entertaining.

According to the main characteristics of the group of children, Andrex developed its campaign supported extensively on-pack, TV, Internet that aims to be more efficient for the information delivery and emotionally engaging promotion. Therefore, the special limited edition Winter Puppy were created for the consumer who bought Andrex, and 12 giant Puppies were auctioned on eBay (Utalkmarketing, 2008).

Alongside with the puppy, Andrex promoted its campaign tie-in with McFly as the campaign's ambassadors. A McFly prize draw was designed which provide the chances to gain the concert tickets, meet the brand backstage or McFly goddie bag (ibit).

Using celebrity as main tool of the marketing campaign is what Andrex is doing in order to engage with their target audience which is pre-teen and teens as mentioned before. As Belch & Belch (2007) state, the market of teenager is very sensitive with celebrity endorsers, which is evidenced by the frequency of using entertainers to target this group, such as beauty products and beverage. The role of celebrity in ads can be recognised as the ability to catch more attention, favourably influence audience's feelings and behaviour. In this case, the credibility for McFly is appreciated since they were key supporters of Teenage Cancer Trust. Also they are well match with this target audience group since they enjoy a high level of popularity amongst children (Utalkmarketing, 2008). Therefore, compared with the other sales promotion, applying the celebrity ambassador could be more credible and attractive in this case.


Although it could be risky for Andrex launched a campaign which mainly focused on children, since children are financial independence, the influence power might not be as strong as directly targeting decider. However, as the result of the campaign suggested, Andrex have gained a big success by raising £128,215.50 for Teenage Cancer Trust (Utalkmarketing, 2008). They applied different communication channels effectively which ensure the campaign information delivery, and also engaged with consumers by using the power of children on the family buying decisions.


The report has analyzed the influences of three consumer behaviour aspects on marketing activities of Andrex. Although it can be hard to maintain the leadership in the low-involvement product category which facing considerable difficulties to differentiating from the other competitors, Andrex manages the consumer relationship appropriately by placing positive perception, bridging closer relationship with target audience and reference group.

The previous sections of this report reveal that firstly, brand perception can be conveyed to audience by placing proper symbols or images which is puppy in this case. It arouses emotional responses and builds up mental identification toward the product which is soft, strong, premium toilet tissue. Secondly, the company is also paying considerable attention to motivate the public and upgrade product value through engaging with ethical issue and social responsibility. Lastly, it appears that the company targets children as reference group which is most likely to influence decision-maker in family. Through using Mcfly as spokespeople and TV ads, the company gets more engaged with reference group, which furthermore will influence decision-maker.

In the contemporary society, consumers become more powerful and dynamic, therefore, adequate and in-depth consumer behaviour research about the target segment are needed which could helps the company generate more loyalty and advocate consumers whatever the product category it belongs to.


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