Last week I was part of a consumer panel of 50 other ladies who were asked for our opinion about paper napkins. And yes, it was women only. Men, I would presume, are already figured out by marketing when it comes to their opinion on the matter.

I signed up via Green Book for the market research opportunity and in this case I was paid $150 for my opinion on paper napkins for 2 hours of "work" (+ money for parking). The last time I did a market research discussion was over two years ago when the last Spider-man movie came out and they wanted some ideas about what we thought about the movie, the series and it's direction. I was paid $75 for 2 hours of being opinionated about a movie.

This was a fun panel discussion, one that got our creative juices flowing was how we viewed the specific brand name product if it were a human person. I was the odd ball out in my creativity as I just kept thinking, "I would never use paper napkins, I would use cloth napkins." So my opinion came from a very different place than the others around the table.

 flickr/cc - wiennat

One of their questions got me thinking. "If you couldn't use these (brand name) paper napkins, then what other options would you use?"

First, what are paper napkins used for? BBQ, picnics, lunch with the kids, large groups, laying on plates in the microwave, cleaning up spills, blowing our nose.

1. Paper Towels 
 - If paper towels are already in the house, I don't see why paper napkins would be needed as well, since you can rip off a square to hand little Johnny his sandwich or clean up his spilled kool-aid. Also, if you are Eco conscientious then picking up recyclable paper towels would be the way to go as well.

2. Cloth In all it's glory
a. Classic cloth napkins - picked up in stores, thrift stores, craigslist, yard sales.
b. Fancy napkins - Using the material you like, cut to size and hem edges or purchase handmade napkins. The cost up front will save you money over the long haul. Especially linen napkins.
c. Actual towels - whether they be finger towels or hand towels, you can use a more sturdy cloth to clean faces and wipe hands. And if you are eating BBQ, dampen the cloth and nuke in the microwave for 10 seconds for wonderfully clean hands!
d. Old t shirts and jeans - If the shirt had a design on the front you could cut and sew it to make a very unique napkin or just cut to a size desired for cleaning up spills. The same goes for denim material, a bit stiff, but unique.
e. Baby diapers - Might I suggest bleaching and dying them, but also an alternative for the spill around the house

After all the opinions, complaints and praise were given about (brand name) paper napkins and the creativity was sucked out of us in relation to it's usefulness. We walked out wondering two things. How will they use this information and where is my cash?


  1. The Grouch // Friday, August 13, 2010 8:36:00 PM  

    How do I get in on some of that action?

  2. Dawn // Friday, August 13, 2010 8:51:00 PM  

    Check out the "green book" - I have a link in the article