COVID-19 panic buying of toilet paper explained by SFU marketing expert Lindsay Meredith

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      With the coronavirus, people seem to be sensing that some serious fecal matter is about to hit the fan.

      That could a good explanation why they’re empting store shelves of toilet paper.

      SFU marketing expert Lindsay Meredith agrees.

      “Literally and figuratively,” Meredith chuckled in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight.

      Kidding aside, the professor emeritus at the SFU’s Beedie School of Business provides an explanation why people are panic buying toilet paper.

      Compared to other things like food items, Meredith noted that there are few indirect substitutes for toilet paper.

      Meredith pointed out as example that if someone cannot buy, say, canned meat, the person can get prepackaged cereals.

      “An indirect substitute is another product that does the same thing my product does, but it might do it differently,” Meredith explained.

      For toilet paper, Meredith said that there are no easy substitutes.

      “There's only toilet paper basically,” Meredith said.

      “I mean, you could try using paper towels and serviettes and stuff like that and newspaper,” Meredith continued.

      “But, you know, the weapon of choice here is in fact toilet paper,” he said.

      That’s why “you see huge pressure fall on it,” Meredith pointed out.

      Meredith noted that in some regions in the world, toilet paper is considered a “luxury”.

      “In North America, it's considered a necessity,” the retired professor said.

      In Japan, which is famous for bidets or toilet fixtures that shoot a stream of water to clean a person’s pooper, people there may not consider toilet paper as a necessity, according to Meredith.

      “But here it is,” Meredith said.