The rich are doing great these days. The rest of us, not so much. And yet, the rest of us still have to buy toilet paper even if our jobs are precarious and money is tight:

For them, Kimberly-Clark Corp. and other tissue makers have a special strategy:

“Desheeting.”

A word that top executives of personal-care conglomerates are proudly bandying about because it speaks of their corporate spirit of relentless innovation. And it cropped up during Kimberly-Clark’s second-quarter earnings call….Sales, at $5.267 billion, were down fractionally year over year….Yet Kimberly-Clark continues to eke out “adjusted earnings” growth — 8% per share in the second quarter. What gives? All manner of cost cutting, product-mix changes, and that word.

“Well, we took some desheeting in the quarter,” explained Mr. Buthman. The company was reducing the sheets on each roll of toilet paper and in each box of Kleenex. He called it an “innovation” that would lead to a “more positive” price. At the same time, volume, which the company counted in thousands of sheets, would decline. “Which net net, for us, works out to be a positive,” he said.

….Part of the innovation is to fluff up the tissue without adding more materials — 15% “bulkier,” it said on a box of Kleenex that had 13% fewer sheets in it, the Wall Street Journal discovered. In the Cottonelle line, sheet counts dropped by 5.7% to 9.6%. Fewer but fluffed up sheets, lower input costs for the company, and consumers who “don’t care about” that. A perfect solution — and a variation on an ancient theme — for hiding hefty price increases.

A regular reader passed this along today via email. “The American zeitgeist in one word,” he said. Quite so.

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

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