Tinier Towels

At office parties across the land this month, holiday beverages will spill. And folks will reach for a quicker picker-upper — not a stiffer drink, of course, but a Bounty paper towel. One in four will most likely select not a full-sized, square towel, but Bounty Select-a-Size, with smaller (6-by-11-inch) sheets.

Why? we wondered. And how?

Select-a-Size was developed by Diane Cheshire, head of Bounty product development at Procter & Gamble. “We were researching sheet sizes back around 1991,” she says. “And we found that smaller-sized sheets were very polarizing. Only a small percentage liked them, but they really liked them.”

So Select-a-Size was born. Bounty’s brass worried that a smaller sheet would extend the life of a roll, leading to lower repeat sales. “So we ran a study and found that the smaller sheets actually increased consumption,” Cheshire says. That data convinced not only the P&G bigwigs but also retailers.

Why not make all rolls Select-a-Size? “It’s that polarizing factor — some people really don’t like smaller sheets,” Cheshire explains. She prefers regular Bounty herself.