And Finally

Making a splash

Guizhou firm cracks toilet seat market

Toilet-Seat-w

Chinese consumers like to import their toilet seat from the East and it seems Europeans have a similar preference. While the Chinese favour higher-tech bum-warming seats from Japan, the Europeans are more drawn towards simpler designs from China.

Topseat may not be the best known Chinese firm but the toilet seat maker from Guizhou has been receiving rave reviews from state media. “Creative made-in-China toilet seats have become chic in the European market,” the People’s Daily commented late last month, reporting that Topseat sells more than two million toilet sets in Europe every year, with 80% of its exports going to Germany and Switzerland.

Regular WiC readers might remember that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has been calling on Chinese manufacturers to pursue a “craftsman spirit” where consumer products are concerned (with heated toilet seats and advanced rice cookers singled out). Smartphone maker Xiaomi was one of the first to answer the call, aping Japanese designs to produce a far lower cost luxury heated-lavatory-cum-bidet seat (and a smart rice cooker too, see WiC378).

Xiaomi’s advances might have been in line with the government’s expectations but from a saving-the-planet point of view Topseat’s more basic offering has pluses too. That’s because Topseat uses environmentally friendly materials, such as bamboo, straw stalks and bio-adhesives to craft its products.

“People in European countries are very much concerned about climate change. We use recycled materials, so they prefer to buy our products,” Topseat’s chairman Wu Chengdong told China Daily.

Perhaps the firm’s most high-tech model is its secondary, smaller seat for toddlers that attaches magnetically to the underside of the base when not in use. Topseat calls it the TinyHiney Potty and it was featured on NBC’s Today Show in the US, where the hosts favoured it over a rival product.

The TinyHiney Potty is one of the product lines Topseat has developed with the US market in mind, the People’s Daily said, along with an anti-slam technology that it says enables the seat to close ‘like a whisper’.

Topseat sells over 200,000 toilet seats each year in the US.

The flagship line in the international market, however, is the Magic Motion range, which uses holographic printing to create displays on its toilet lids that change when viewed from different angles. For example, one design features a goldfish that appears to leap out of a bowl as the user approaches.

That said, WiC thinks Topseat’s promotional video might have slightly overestimated the impact of its holographic products. It exclaims: “Amaze, inspire and entertain your guests with this futuristic, virtual bathroom experience”. The video concludes even more ambitiously: “Make your toilet a constant conversation starter.”

With Topseat products selling overseas at up to Rmb460 ($70) per seat, WiC also wonders what Xiaomi could charge for its far more sophisticated product – which costs Rmb999 in China – if it too could crack the global bathroom market.


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