10 Largest Paper Towel Brands In The United States

Chris Kolmar
By Chris Kolmar
- Jun. 16, 2021

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While many households lean towards reusable, sustainable resources, paper towels are still a widely used item.

The majority of US households use about five to seven rolls of paper towels per month, according to surveys completed by Statista. Those same surveys find that half of those households purchase name brands versus private labels or store brands.

While it may not be a booming multibillion-dollar business for each brand on its own, the numbers certainly don’t lie. In 2020, paper towel sales totaled approximately six billion dollars.

In the United States alone, we use billions of pounds of paper towels each year — about 13 billion pounds to be exact. Those are produced with over 100 million trees and over 100 billion gallons of water.

Paper towels saw a 40.8% year-over-year sales growth in 2020. These significantly higher numbers can be attributed to the coronavirus outbreak beginning early in the year. With households buying more than their fair share, we experienced a widespread shortage of items like paper towels and toilet paper as manufacturers couldn’t keep up with public demand.

10 Largest Paper Towel Brands in the United States

  1. Bounty. Cincinnati, Ohio

    Tagline: “The Quicker Picker Upper!”
    Parent Company: Procter & Gamble
    Number of Consumers (in millions): 151.75 million
    Current CEO: Stefan Rabe (Bounty)
    Followers on Instagram: 7.5k (@bountypapertowels)

    Bounty began with Charmin back in 1928. The Hoberg Paper Company of Wisconsin created the name, eventually changing the company’s name to match. In 1957, Charmin Paper Company was purchased by Procter & Gamble — the first of many consumer-paper product business acquisitions by the conglomerate.

    The research P&G put in determined that consumers cared less about the strength or softness of their paper towels and much more about the absorbency. In 1965, they introduced Bounty paper towels. They upgraded the original Charmin Towels from 1-ply to a 2-ply soft, strong, and more absorbent than its predecessor or competitors.

    As of 1998, Bounty also sells paper napkins.

  2. Scott. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Tagline: “Common sense on a roll.”
    Parent Company: Kimberly-Clark
    Number of Consumers (in millions): 32.76
    Current CEO: Michael D. Hsu (Kimberly-Clark)
    Followers on Instagram: 6k (@scottproducts)

    Scott Paper Company may be better known for their toilet paper, but their paper towels are popular enough to make them the second biggest brand in the United States.

    Scott, who claims to be the first to put toilet paper on a roll, was founded in 1879 by brothers Irvin and Clarence Scott. A few years later, in 1907, they began manufacturing and marketing their paper towels.

    The company was acquired by Kimberly-Clark in 1995 for $9.4 billion and has continued to grow and prosper.

  3. Brawny. Atlanta, Georgia

    Tagline: “Stay Giant”
    Parent Company: Georgia-Pacific
    Number of Consumers (in millions): 27.81
    Current CEO: Christian Fischer (Georgia-Pacific)
    Followers on Instagram: 2.7k (@brawnybrand)

    It began with Georgia Hardwood Lumber Co., founded in 1927. Thirty years later, they entered the pulp and paper business. And, in the early 1960s, they began manufacturing and marketing paper towel products.

    Georgia Hardwood Lumber Company eventually became Georgia-Pacific Corporation. Today, they are one of the world’s largest consumer-paper products manufacturers — they made their first billion dollars in sales way back in 1968.

    In addition to Brawny, they own several other popular brands such as Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Sparkle, and Mardi Gras, thanks to the acquisition of Fort James Corporation in 2000.

    The Brawny Man has been the Brawny mascot since the 1970s. The iconic lumberjack received a makeover in the early 2000s with help from design firm Deskey.

    This rebranding was intended to help Brawny become more competitive against Procter & Gamble’s Bounty brand. While it did not help them take the top spot, it did lead to an increase in sales.

  4. Sparkle. Atlanta, Georgia

    Tagline: “Make the Bright Choice”
    Parent Company: Georgia-Pacific
    Number of Consumers (in millions): 26.91
    Current CEO: Christian Fischer (Georgia-Pacific)
    Followers on Instagram: N/A

    Sparkle is another paper towel brand owned and manufactured by Georgia-Pacific Corporation. Sparkle is well-known for the blue fairy, Kerri the Sparkle Fairy, featured in their ads and packaging.

    This brand is marketed as a “no-frills” budget-friendly paper towel option. The brand originally belonged to the Scott Paper Company. Supposedly, the paper towels were created due to a manufacturing mistake when a batch of toilet paper was too thick.

    While Sparkle is not found on Instagram, it can be found on Facebook, where they have over 158k likes and over 156k followers.

  5. Viva. Irving, Texas

    Tagline: “That’s Unbe-VIVA-ble”
    Parent Company: Kimberly-Clark
    Number of Consumers (in millions): 16.07
    Current CEO: Michael D. Hsu (Kimberly-Clark)
    Followers on Instagram: 1k (@vivatowels)

    You may be noticing a trend on this list. More than half of the top paper towel brands are owned by conglomerates Procter & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific, or, like Viva, Kimberly-Clark.

    Kimberly-Clark is another of the world’s largest producers of consumer paper products. In addition to Viva, they also own Kleenex, Huggies Diapers, Pull-Ups, and Kotex.

    Viva is touted as a 1-ply paper towel that is as thick as a 2-ply. It is made from the same proprietary cloth-like material, “Cheesecloth UGG” or “Cellucotton,” as Kleenex. This material was originally developed during World War I for gas mask filters.

    The material became known for many other practical uses. Nurses during the war discovered the material made an excellent menstrual pad. Kimberly-Clark developed Kotex and began discreetly selling these as well.

  6. Mardi Gras. Atlanta, Georgia

    Tagline: N/A
    Parent Company: Georgia-Pacific
    Number of Consumers (in millions): 6.51
    Current CEO: Christian Fischer (Georgia-Pacific)
    Followers on Instagram: N/A

    Mardi Gras began as napkins under the Georgia-Pacific umbrella and, eventually, spread to paper towels. Though the line of paper towels has now been discontinued, they still account for many sales in 2020.

    Mardis Gras is much better known for their napkins, which use gimmicky sales tactics to promote their products. They even developed a “conversation starters” print set that features questions or requests intended to help families start conversations around the dinner table.

  7. Marcal. Elmwood Park, New Jersey

    Tagline: “Sustainable. Reliable. Affordable.”
    Parent Company: Atlas Holdings, LLC
    Number of Consumers (in millions): 1.78
    Current CEO: Rob Baron (Marcal)
    Followers on Instagram: 161 (@marcalpapercompany)

    Marcal was founded in 1932 by Nicholas Marcalus. The company focuses on its environmental responsibility, claiming to be one of the first paper-making companies to “go green” when they began to recycle waste paper into pulp in the 1950s.

    The parent company, Atlas Holdings, LLC, acquired the company in 2012 under Soundview Paper Company. They have decided to continue selling products under the Marcal name.

    Atlas Holdings, LLC, founded in 2002, is considered a leading manufacturer of recycled and eco-friendly bath, towel, and tissue products.

  8. Green Forest. San Francisco, California

    Tagline: “Completely Recycled. Totally Soft.”
    Parent Company: Planet, Inc.
    Number of Consumers (in millions): 1.61
    Current CEO: Will Marshall (Planet Inc.)
    Followers on Instagram: N/A

    Green Forest was created in 1990 by Wisconsin-based paper company Fort Howard. In 1997, Fort Howard merged with James River, another paper company, creating the Fort James Corporation.

    The company was purchased by Georgia-Pacific in 2000 and included brands like Brawny, Quilted Northern, and Dixie. Unfortunately, Green Forest did not live up to Georgia-Pacific standards, and they began looking to offload the brand. Planet Inc. stepped in to acquire the brand in 2005.

    Green Forest sells paper towels, toilet paper, paper napkins, and facial tissue, all touted as 100% recycled. The brand focuses on environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.

  9. Kirkland Signature. Issaquah, Washington

    Tagline: N/A
    Parent Company: Costco Wholesale
    Number of Consumers (in millions): Less than 1 million
    Current CEO: E. Craig Jelinek
    Followers on Instagram: 870k (@costco)

    Store brands account for the second-largest number of paper towel consumers, with 112.9 million consumers in 2020. Kirkland Signature, the Costco private label brand, is the top-selling store brand nationwide.

    As of 2020, Costco, a Fortune 500 company founded in 1983, is the fifth-largest retailer in the world. Costco currently has over 100 million membership cardholders and has a $28.7 billion brand value.

    Kirkland Signature was introduced in 1992. The name is derived from their then headquarters, Kirkland, Washington. Many may not know that many Kirkland brand products are manufactured by name brands and repackaged as Kirkland Signature.

  10. Seventh Generation. Burlington, Vermont

    Tagline: “A Clean You Can Trust”
    Parent Company: Unilever
    Number of Consumers (in millions): Less than 1 million
    Current CEO: Alan Jope
    Followers on Instagram: 98.3k (@seventhgeneration)

    Founded in Burlington, Vermont, in 1988, Seventh Generation creates plant-based products with a very strict focus on their environmental impact. They are a Certified B Corporation, which means they meet the highest standards.

    Seventh Generation believes in ingredient transparency and offers recycled packaging that is designed to be recycled in addition to their plant-based formulations. Their brand name is derived from the idea of creating a “healthy, sustainable, and equitable place for the next seven generations.”

    Unilever obtained the brand in 2016.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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