• Greg Roth

Why toilet paper?

What we can learn about human behaviour from COVID-19 and toilet paper phenomenon.

It’s impossible to ignore what is taking place in light of COVID-19, and it’s been incredible to see how this new threat is impacting human behaviours. People around the world have been stocking up on hand sanitizers, major sporting events like soccer have been cancelled, and handshakes have become elbow touches. All the examples above help to prevent the spread of the virus, but what about the latest craze with toilet paper?

A fascinating article from CNN, ‘The psychology behind why toilet paper, of all things, is the latest coronavirus panic buy’, was shared with me by a colleague and it got me thinking about the difference of this behaviour to the rest.  As the article states, unlike hand sanitizer, toilet paper doesn’t prevent the spread of the virus and isn’t a staple like water or bread during times of uncertainty.   So why then are grocery stores around the world, sold out of this product? What is the compelling force that is causing people to stock up on toilet paper, and how do these human behaviours relate to the world of change management?