In recent years, Japan has seen a surge in the number of tourists visiting the country, with many being drawn to the unique experience offered by high-tech toilets. These bidet toilets, known for their warm seats and precision spray technology, have become a staple in luxury bathrooms worldwide. In fact, more than 80 percent of homes in Japan are equipped with bidet toilets, according to a government survey. This trend has now extended beyond Japan, with sales of bidet toilets surging abroad, particularly in the United States. Celebrities such as Drake, the Kardashians, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have all publicly endorsed bidet toilets, further fueling their popularity.

The Impact of the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in boosting the demand for bidet toilets. As more people spent time at home due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, there was a surge in home renovations, leading to an increased interest in upgrading bathroom fixtures. Additionally, germ-conscious consumers sought alternatives to toilet paper after facing shortages caused by panic buying. Bidet toilets offered a hygienic solution, further driving up sales both in Japan and overseas. TOTO, a leading Japanese company that pioneered electric bidets, reported a significant increase in overseas revenue, with sales doubling from 2012.

Competition in the Market

While Japanese companies like TOTO have dominated the bidet toilet market for years, they are now facing stiff competition from US brands. Kohler, a major US brand, unveiled the Numi 2.0 at a tech fair in Las Vegas, marketing it as “the smartest toilet that exists”. The Numi 2.0 boasts features such as an automatic deodorizer, motion-activated lid, and adjustable spray wand. However, such high-end features come at a cost, with the Numi 2.0 priced significantly higher than basic bidet seats. Despite the competition, Japanese-style bidet toilets continue to be seen as a status symbol, prompting more Americans to upgrade their bathroom fixtures.

Expanding the market for bidet toilets abroad has not been without its challenges. TOTO executives have faced resistance from prudish consumers and cultural taboos surrounding bathroom habits. When the Washlet bidet was first launched in the US in 1986, the company struggled to place advertisements, highlighting the stigma associated with bidet toilets. However, in the age of social media and internet sharing, attitudes towards bidets are changing. Influencers like Canadian TikTok star Spencer Barbosa and celebrities like Drake and Ocasio-Cortez have openly endorsed bidet toilets, helping to normalize their use and break down barriers.

TOTO, founded in 1917 by a father and son duo, initially imported bidets from the United States before revolutionizing the industry with their own high-tech designs. The company faced challenges in the early years, as Japanese toilet habits were slow to change. However, after the success of the Washlet at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, TOTO’s bidet toilets gained popularity both in Japan and internationally. With over 60 million Washlets sold worldwide, TOTO has become a household name synonymous with luxury bathrooms. As the bidet craze continues to grow, even the most hesitant customers may eventually be won over by the allure of high-tech toilets.

The global demand for high-tech bidet toilets shows no signs of slowing down. With Japanese companies like TOTO leading the way in innovation, and US brands like Kohler entering the market with their own high-end models, bidet toilets are set to become a common fixture in luxury bathrooms around the world. The shift towards more hygienic and sustainable bathroom practices is driving the bidet revolution, reshaping the way we think about personal hygiene and bathroom technology.

Technology

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