Japanese Bidet Toilet Makers Targeting Rich People Overseas

Jiji Press
Toto Ltd.’s high-end Neorest toilet is on display at the ISH 2023 trade fair in Frankfurt on March 13.

FRANKFURT (Jiji Press) — Japanese bidet toilet makers are rushing to promote their products to wealthy people overseas, in the face of the emergence of their Chinese rivals after the “explosive buying” of Japanese bidet toilets by Chinese consumers drew attention.

By leveraging their technological advantages, the Japanese makers are aiming to establish their status as high-quality brands and stimulate demand in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

At the ISH 2023 trade fair for housing equipment in Frankfurt this month, Toto Ltd. showcased its high-end Neorest toilet with the features of its Washlet toilet seat series.

Despite its high price of up to ¥650,000, the Neorest is attracting consumers in China and the United States, according to Toto officials.

The company aims to boost overseas sales of Washlet from 920,000 units in fiscal 2021 to 1.34 million units in fiscal 2023.

“Around half of the five-star hotels in London and Paris have adopted our products,” Toto Managing Executive Officer Shinya Tamura said.

In a bid to market its Washlet products in Europe, the company is approaching interior designers who mainly deal with wealthy clients.

“If we are recognized as a brand used there [in luxury hotels in Europe], that will have a global impact,” Tamura said.

Major housing equipment maker Lixil Corp., which owns the INAX brand, is enjoying strong overseas sales of its bidet toilets, especially in the Chinese market.

Competition in the Chinese market has intensified, with a Lixil official saying, “The market is in a chaotic situation, with local companies entering the picture.”

In the North American market, Lixil saw a sales surge amid a paper shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The two Japanese makers are also focusing on the fast-growing Southeast Asian market.

Lixil offers products adapted to each region, including a bidet toilet without a warm-water spray function.

“We want to maintain our industry-leading position in emerging markets as well,” Toto President Noriaki Kiyota said. “If the sewage situation improves in each country, we can help with our own water-saving technology,” he added.