How Who Gives A Crap founder Simon Griffiths made toilet paper sexy

Who Gives A Crap’s growth since then is proof that global consumers have become more aware: to date, it has sold more than 300 million rolls to customers in 36 countries and has donated nearly $11 million to charity. Its star-studded cast of investors includes Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, former Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Canva co-founder and chief product officer Cameron Adams, and Athletic Ventures, an investment syndicate for athletes. elite, who contributed to a $41.5 million funding round last year.

Profit for the sake of purpose

However, there is more to do. Griffiths prides itself on its direct-to-consumer business model, but isn’t ruling out competing for supermarket shelf space to compete with Quilton and Kleenex, two of its biggest competitors.

Only about 15 per cent of Australians do their shopping online, says Griffiths. “We have to be where the customer wants to buy from us,” she says. “We are missing out on the other 85 percent of the market.”

These goals must be achieved without further stripping the world’s natural resources. Research recently commissioned by Who Gives A Crap exposed how many trees the world is cutting down just for toilet paper.

An older, frequently cited study, no longer available online, had put the figure at 27,000 trees per day.

“The number was grossly wrong. The actual number of trees cut down every day to make toilet paper is well over a million trees…to literally flush them down the toilet,” says Griffiths. “In my mind, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

Charging

In the short term, Griffiths and his team look to grow by launching new products through their ‘Good Time’ hair and body care products, and further expanding their eco-friendly toilet paper rolls in international markets. With warehouses in Australia, the US, the UK and the Netherlands, Australia accounts for less than 40 percent of revenue.

Supply chain pain will linger

Standing in the way of these plans, however, are knots in the global logistics and supply chain that have only recently begun to unwind.

The pandemic has been a mixed bag for the company: On the one hand, it unlocked a new cohort of customers thanks to COVID-19-fueled panic buying in 2020, saw demand peak at 28 rolls per second, and amassed a list of expect half a million people.

On the other hand, it was virtually impossible for Who Gives A Crap to avoid international shipping and transportation nightmares. “We are moving fairly low-value bulk products, which means we are at the critical end of who is affected by supply chain challenges,” says Griffiths.

The worst is over, but he predicts another wave of consumer price hikes as Russia’s war against Ukraine keeps energy costs and other crucial inputs high for all businesses.

“I think the big question is: have all the price changes that need to happen because of the supply chain [disruption] happened, and that means now things will go back to normal? Or are things like energy and the cost of living crisis going to continue to drive prices up a little bit more?”

Who Gives A Crap was one of the companies forced to raise the prices of its products earlier this year by as much as 15 percent, but the founder says he has no intention of raising prices again.

The pressures are evident for the industry. “There is a toilet paper company in Germany that went bankrupt [the other] week. We’re going to see a lot more of that in the coming months.”

The Business Briefing newsletter offers important news, exclusive coverage and expert opinions. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.

Leave a Comment