Booming smart toilet industry in China

Global Business

China is speeding up its efforts to boost innovation and smart manufacturing, and domestic producers are now ready to win back the heart of Chinese customers with quality products. Two years ago, Chinese tourists were seen snapping up electronic toilets in Japan. But now things have changed.

CGTN’s Wu Haojun takes a closer look at the booming smart toilet industry in the east Chinese city of Taizhou.

These electric toilet seats are made in China. With built-in bidets and instant heating functions, the toilet seats can wash, dry and disinfect bottoms, and even smarter. 2015 was the tipping point for the industry. That year, such an unassuming object appeared on the shopping list of Chinese tourists to Japan. “Toilet seats” then became the buzzword in China. That same year, Chinese manufacturers like Coma saw an opportunity in the domestic market.

“I believe the industry will boom in China due to the huge market potential. Data in 2016 show over 400 million families in China. Wherever there is a home, there will be a need for toilets, and the possibility of installing smart toilets. Meanwhile, China’s aging population also requires smarter products,” Executive Assistant to the CEO of COMA Li Baocong said.

Founded in 2007, the company experienced twists and turns, since it took quite a long time for Chinese consumers to accept the concept of smart toilets. It wasn’t until two years ago that the industry began to flourish in the east Chinese city of Taizhou, where the country’s first electric toilet was produced in 1995. Being China’s largest intelligent toilet manufacturer, Taizhou produces over half of all the country’s smart toilets, with annual sales revenue reaching 2 billion yuan, or $300 million. There are over 300 producers — 13 of them large-scale. Five of them were even vendors for the 2016 Hangzhou G20 summit. Being smart is not the only pursuit for manufactures. They have a more important mission: products that cater to more specific needs.

“First, we would like to develop smart toilets with voice recognition system for the convenience of the elderly and children. We will also design customized products for medical use, such as toilets with a function to relieve constipation. And we are planning to explore products that allow people to conduct urine tests directly at home,” COMA Sales Manager Ding Zhihui said.

It may be difficult to envision how much smarter our toilets could be in the future. But for Chinese manufacturers, this is just a beginning of their innovation… and imagination.