All I want for Christmas is a giant roll of toilet paper

Consumer products companies find practical gifts hot for the holidays

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Crest promises professional-level whitening in just one week, and $20 off.
Crest promises professional-level whitening in just one week, and $20 off. Credit: Procter & Gamble Co.

Imagine the joy on Christmas morning as little Sophia or Jackson rush under the tree and tear into the giftwrap to find a sleek new Quip power toothbrush or Crest Express Whitening Kit with blue-light activator -- or even a Tushy toilet-to-bidet converter kit.

It's not as far fetched as it sounds, though realistically all these gifts are more likely for adults than kids. Packaged-goods and personal-care marketers are finding gifts with a decidedly practical bent have gotten popular, and they're taking steps to make them more so.

Historically, the October-December quarter has accounted for 35 percent of Crest Whitestrips volume, reflecting the holiday gift appeal, says Greg Barnsten, North American associate brand director at Procter & Gamble Co. This year, the brand has been pushing the idea more overtly with Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat advertising from in-house performance-marketing agency 87Hundred and Publicis, including a $20-off Cyber Monday deal that has extended into the remainder of the holiday.

"We've seen good results and pickup online in particular," Barnsten says.

The kits with the blue-light activator go for under $50 after discount, compared to the $200 to $500 it can cost at a dental office for a similar treatment using blue light to activate the hydrogen peroxide whitening agent.

Quip CEO Simon Enever acknowledged being a little stressed recently because it was busy season just before Christmas.

"It's surprising when you first think about it," Enever says. "I guess traditionally who wants a toothbrush for Christmas? But it's a huge quarter for us. We definitely feel the gifting effect. I guess price point and hopefully design is why." Quip's power brushes sell for $40 and up online and at Target.

P&G also isn't above hoping for some white elephant gifting of one of its new products, the recently renamed Charmin Forever Roll (previously Freedom Roll). It's a huge commercial-size roll of toilet paper that fits on a metal stand in the bathroom. The idea is that you only have to change the roll once a month. P&G is selling starter kits, including stand, at Get.Charmin.com for $16.47.

"We've definitely seen consumers interested in giving the Forever Roll as a gift," says a P&G spokeswoman. "Gifting the Forever Roll certainly works as a practical gift, or as something more comical."

Personal-care appliances, of course, have rich history in Christmas giving dating back to those ads showing Santa riding a Norelco shaver sleigh from the 1960s. Now Tushy, the direct-to-consumer purveyor of $69 kits that can convert toilets into bidets, has a whole new twist on Santa, who was paired with a talking anus in the brand's holiday advertising. The MTA pulled the plug on a bigger-budget push to put Tushy holiday gifting ads on the subway earlier this month, but the news helped get the brand a segment on Saturday Night Live.

Charmin Forever Roll
Charmin Forever Roll Credit: Procter & Gamble Co.
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