The next generation
Costco upgraded Kirkland
Signature’s tissue thickness by
21 percent and sheet weight by
15 percent, but kept the price at
94 cents per 100 square feet.
Although the original Kirkland Signature
bath tissue was the company’s No. 1-
selling product, buyers felt there was
room for improvement.
chain come from legal and responsible
sources. Costco requires an independent third-party analysis reconfirming that no sourcing
comes from forests identified as endangered.
Deb tells me, “Sustainability and good
forestry citizenship are complicated. We only
want to work with suppliers who are of good
character, who operate in a manner that is
environmentally and socially responsible.”
At every turn I discover even more to like
about this new Costco bath tissue.
Some brands add a chemical-based temporary wet-strengthening agent to their tissue
so it stays strong during use and then breaks
down for flushing. Kirkland Signature has a
specific fiber blend that does not need temporary wet-strength additives. Studies show it
breaks up as fast as or faster than many leading brands and is also safe for septic systems
Deb insists, “Please let members know
that RV-specific bath tissues are priced ridiculously high. Kirkland Signature works just as
well, with no inks, dyes or perfumes added.”
Do you prefer
over or under when it comes to
putting bath tissue on the holder?
Costco’s Kirkland Signature
Bath Tissue supplier reports
that 72 percent of those surveyed said they prefer over.
Over users report it’s easier
to tear off the desired number of
sheets, and there’s less chance
of scraping one’s knuckles on
the wall. Under users say there’s
less temptation for a child or cat
to unravel the roll, and they like
the tidier appearance.
With a husband and a whole
passel of kids and grandkids in
and out of our house, I’m just
glad to find tissue on the roll
when I need it.—PV
(five sealed six-packs) rather than the previous
36 so the bundles could continue to fit Costco
pallets (and continue to meet Costco’s com-pany-wide objective of reducing packaging).
This in turn meant a higher price per
sheet when computed at 30 rolls rather than
36 at the existing bundle price of $17.99.
So, in a move that once again shows why
I am so hooked on this company, Costco lowered the bundle price from $17.99 to $14.99,
commensurate with the 11-cents-per-100-
sheet cost of the previous Kirkland Signature
version. (Other brands are as much as 62
cents per 100 sheets.)
Signature Bath Tissue belong to those who
purchase and use it.
Deb makes presentations at all eight
mills, explaining what is expected and
demanded as part of Costco best practices,
with no compromise on quality. The mill
team tells me that Costco is the only retailer
known to conduct this type of training.
Quality checks during production are
continuous. Nothing is overlooked, from fiber
blend, wet strength, softness, disintegration,
ply thickness and moisture content to tensile
strength in both directions and tearing ease.
Independent third-party testing is conducted quarterly, and Costco’s own quality-assurance lab randomly pulls and test samples
directly from warehouses.
We proceed to the enormous on-site
warehouse (it’s eight stories high and holds
423,000 bundles of Kirkland Signature Bath
Tissue). I’m comforted by the fact that the
plant is fully automated—which means that,
except for periodic quality inspections, the
only human hands to touch Kirkland
Of course, the improvements posed several challenges. For example, upgrading tissue
thickness by 21 percent and sheet weight by
15 percent caused quite the domino effect.
The added fiber enlarged the 425-sheet roll
diameter from 4. 65 inches to 5. 2 inches, which
triggered a new bundle configuration of 30 rolls
While turning in our badges as we leave the
mill (security is very tight), I ask how members
are reacting to this new Costco bath tissue.
I’m told the new Kirkland Signature Bath
Tissue was first launched in the Midwest last
September. Sales in the region are showing
double-digit growth. Members report they
like its softness, thickness and strength, and
that it drops no lint (unlike other high-end
brands), tears neatly, is safe for plumbing,
leaves users feeling clean and saves money.
At the end of a very long day, Deb concludes, “At Costco, we never rest. This is why
Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue continues to
be the biggest private-label bath tissue brand
in the U.S.” C
Number of rolls
Sheets per roll
Sheet size (inches)
4" x 4"
4" x 4"
4. 25" x 4"
4. 5" x 4"
Comparison prices made on February 28, 2012, in Northern California. Prices may vary due to shipping and market.
JUNE 2012 ;e Costco Connection 89