Kleenex Bids Farewell to Canadian Market: Exploring the ‘Unique Complexities’

the well-known consumer facial tissue brand Kleenex is bidding farewell to the Canadian market. The decision comes as the brand’s parent company, Kimberly-Clark, cites ‘unique complexities’ of the Canadian market as the driving force behind this strategic shift. While the Kleenex brand has been synonymous with facial tissues for decades, the company’s decision to discontinue the product highlights a series of challenges specific to the Canadian market.

Kimberly-Clark, the manufacturer behind various paper product brands including Cottonelle, Huggies, Poise, and Depend, has made the strategic choice to cease production of consumer-focused Kleenex facial tissues in Canada. Despite the brand’s strong presence in other paper product categories, the company acknowledges that operating in a highly constrained supply environment has brought about difficulties in sustaining the Kleenex business. Todd Fisher, Kimberly-Clark’s Canadian vice-president and general manager, emphasized that redirecting resources towards other brands within Canada will enable continued innovation and value for consumers.

While this decision has caught some consumers off guard, industry analysts such as Zachary Evershed from National Bank express that the move wasn’t entirely unexpected. Evershed notes that industry insiders have been aware of the impending exit for some time, as inquiries for replacement supply have been in the works.

The decision to discontinue Kleenex in Canada is likely multifaceted. Evershed suggests that thin profit margins coupled with consumer responses to inflation may have contributed to the choice. As consumers seek more economical options, the profitability of shipping lightweight tissue products like Kleenex becomes challenging, given the economic implications of moving air rather than substantial weight.

Kimberly-Clark’s move leaves room for other companies to fill the gap in the market. Brands like Montreal-based KP Tissue Inc., known for Embassy, White Swan, and Scotties, are poised to capitalize on Kleenex’s departure. Kruger Products, a market leader with its Scotties brand, sees this as an opportunity to further strengthen its dominance. The company’s investments in new facilities and upcoming product launches reflect their readiness to accommodate increased demand.

Despite the departure of Kleenex, the brand’s name won’t fade entirely from the Canadian market. Kimberly-Clark intends to continue selling “professional facial products” and “consumer hand towel products” under the Kleenex name. This strategic choice acknowledges the brand’s enduring recognition while pivoting to more lucrative market segments.

The exit of Kleenex from the Canadian market underscores the challenges and dynamics inherent to doing business in Canada. The competitive landscape, geographic spread, and other unique factors have likely played a role in this decision. Kimberly-Clark’s move, while significant, echoes the trend of well-known consumer products gradually exiting the Canadian market. This departure, while marked by ‘unique complexities,’ leaves space for new players to emerge and potentially reshape the landscape of facial tissue products in Canada.

As Canadians bid adieu to Kleenex, the brand’s legacy and impact on the market will undoubtedly endure, even as new alternatives emerge to fill the tissue void.

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