For the most part, what happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom. Some conversations and behaviors are too private or shocking to discuss, but there are ways to make the taboo talkable. A recent survey(1) found that bathroom discussions can be informative, useful or even funny without relying on crass bathroom humor or euphemisms, and one-third of Americans wish it were more socially acceptable to discuss bathroom behaviors.
Women believe there's a benefit to having an honest, open conversation about bathroom behaviors. Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) agree that people who are more willing to talk about bathroom hygiene tend to have better bathroom hygiene. And, 90 percent of people agree that children need to be instructed in proper bathroom behavior meaning a clean conversation early in life could wipe away a multitude of problems later.
Two-thirds of those surveyed say that bathroom-related topics are too taboo to discuss, and many soften or alter their language depending on the circumstance. Many women say they have to "use the potty" when they're with their friends (32 percent) or talking to their mother (38 percent).
Despite the emotional need for privacy and the feeling that bathroom conversations with strangers are "out of character," 86 percent of people said they have had personal conversations in the bathroom, including sharing gossip (41 percent), talking about their job (30 percent), chatting about sex (20 percent) or discussing their love life (16 percent).
Then, there's bathroom shock value. Fewer people are troubled by reading in the bathroom (10 percent) than by talking on the phone (25 percent). But more than half are taken aback by people who eat in the bathroom (52 percent) or do not wash their hands (51 percent).
Other findings that convey bathroom confidence:
- 56 percent are uncomfortable asking someone to hand them toilet paper, including 63 percent of men
- 73 percent agree that bathrooms are not social spaces
- 57 percent of men and women say that they are uncomfortable when they hear someone else in the restroom
The survey found that bathroom-related behavior and discussion varies by location and consumers really only feel comfortable in their own bathroom. Outside of home is where behavior changes dramatically. At home, 77 percent of consumers are confident to sit on the toilet seat, while 53 percent of people cover the seat with toilet paper in public restrooms and 26 percent of people do the same at work.
"We wanted to know what insights and innovations could be uncovered if we made the 'taboo' talkable," says Patrick Davis, senior marketing director for Quilted Northern. "The research shows that many women would prefer a dialogue that is more informative and direct, while less euphemistic. We wanted to have a straight discussion with our consumers and the survey provides us with the opportunity to start the conversation."
When asked about toilet paper usage, the consumers stated that there are varying techniques when it comes to toilet paper usage. One-third of people (31 percent) create a "snowball," while 28 percent fold it into squares, 15 percent wrap their entire hand and 14 percent perform accordion folds along the dotted lines.
Georgia-Pacific, the maker of Quilted Northern Soft & Strong®, hosted the survey in order to uncover opinions about the tissue-category conversation so it could become more real less about marketing and more about bath tissue as an essential means to confident cleaning. With 37 percent of people agreeing that they wish candid bathroom talk was more socially acceptable, the survey underscores that consumers are willing to have a conversation about cleanliness and the bathroom.
(1) Building Bathroom Confidence: StrategyOne, a full-service corporate positioning, market research and strategic communications agency conducted a nationwide survey to investigate consumers' bathroom behavior and attitudes toward personal hygiene issues. The survey was conducted online among a sample of 1,283 men and women aged 18 64 using the field services of e-Rewards. The margin of sampling error at the 95 percent level of confidence is +/- 2.7 for total respondents.