Eight years ago, financial writer Wu Xiaobo's article "Buying a Toilet Lid in Japan" sparked a thousand waves with one stone. At that time, the term "toilet seat cover" not only became a hot topic during the two sessions of the same year, but also accelerated the development of China's intelligent toilet manufacturing industry. Taizhou Intelligent Toilet Town also emerged, forming a billion dollar industrial cluster.
However, 8 years later today, smart toilets have not taken the development path imagined by the market. Although they have shown a rapid growth trend and almost become a standard feature in the hardcover market, their overall market popularity is no longer as popular as the phenomenal topic at the beginning, and they seem to have embarked on a "niche" development path. So, what is the current development of smart toilets? What are the new development opportunities for the future market?
Why has the intelligent toilet never gained popularity after years of development?
According to the total online promotion data of AVC, the retail volume of smart toilets in 2022 was 2.569 million units, a year-on-year increase of 22.7%, and the retail volume was 6.22 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 23.4%. Although the market trend of rising volume and volume has outperformed the overall market of the home appliance industry, the overall ups and downs of the home appliance market last year did not have a complete impact on the smart toilet market. When it comes to the enterprise level, their perception of the changes is more profound.
According to the relevant person in charge of TOTO, the sales volume of TOTO in the Chinese market has been increasing for three consecutive years from 2019 to 2021. However, last year was greatly affected by force majeure factors, and the sales volume was the lowest in recent years, dropping from 510000 units in 2021 to 317000 units. The person in charge of Kohler also stated that their production was delayed in the first half of last year due to the impact of the epidemic, and it was not until September that they worked overtime to recover the outstanding orders.
However, since the beginning of this year, as multiple unfavorable factors have subsided and favorable national policies to promote consumption have emerged, the overall market is recovering in an orderly manner. When it comes to the development prospects of smart toilets, multiple companies have expressed great optimism about the industry's future. They believe that there are two major opportunities for future market development. Firstly, new decoration users, especially in the hardcover market, smart toilets are favored by both owners and developers. According to AVC Real Estate Compass 3.0, as of the end of July 2021, the matching rate of smart toilets reached 25%; Another is the popularity of public places such as hotels and public restrooms, which companies say help users quickly access and use products, thereby forming user recognition and providing opportunities for home purchases.
However, at the current stage of the market, the penetration rate of products is still very low. According to AVC data, the penetration rate of smart toilets in China is only 4%, which is due to insufficient market education.
Regarding this issue, Zhu Jun, Vice Chairman of the China Household Electrical Appliances Association, once stated that in the early days, under the influence of Wu Xiaobo's article and the government's attention to smart toilet products, the public had gained recognition of this product. However, over time, the overall attention at the macro level of society has been weakening, and due to the impact of product characteristics, there is a lack of communication voice for this product to improve the quality of life for the public; On the other hand, the current consumer group that comes into contact with this product is mainly concentrated in the home decoration market, belonging to a specific group and accounting for a relatively low proportion of all consumers. Therefore, it has shifted from being widely known in society to being a focus of the current local population.
Therefore, at present, the expectations of enterprises are also more rational and cautious. "Last year, a portion of the decoration demand was accumulated, and it is reasonable to say that it should be released in the first half of this year. However, the consumption of the middle class has become increasingly rational, and most of them are in a wait-and-see attitude." The person in charge of Jardine Matheson bathroom analysis said that it is necessary to wait until June to see if the market really improves.
Light intelligent products unleash vitality, industry competition accelerates product popularization
As mentioned earlier, the recognition issue of smart toilets is one of the key factors affecting their market development. Previously, a survey conducted by China Home Appliance Network and Ovi Cloud Network showed that 60% of respondents had experienced smart toilets, with nearly half of users experiencing them in public places such as hotels and homestays. However, more respondents expressed their unwillingness to use smart toilets in public places due to usage habits and hygiene considerations. And this also points out new development directions for the vast number of enterprises.
From the perspective of product development, light intelligent products equipped with simple intelligent functions such as seat heating, light sensing night lights, foot feeling automatic flushing, and off seat automatic flushing are releasing vitality in the sales market.
When it comes to this trend, the person in charge of Jardine Matheson bathroom stated that light intelligent products are beneficial for gradually cultivating consumers' usage habits. "Actually, there have been intelligent toilets since the early 1990s, but why are they difficult to popularize? Because this is a personal awareness issue, many people may not be accustomed to the cleaning function, but seat heating, automatic flushing, etc. can meet the needs of most people, The price range of light intelligent toilets now overlaps with that of ordinary toilets, and its penetration rate will continue to increase in the future.
Although the current awareness of smart toilets is still not high, from the perspective of the consumer market, awareness is gradually deepening. The person in charge of Kemu mentioned that they have seen a shift in awareness among the young consumer group. "Wu Xiaobo's article has aroused everyone's attention to the health of washing. Now, some young people who rent houses are different from before, and they have a sense of health upgrading. We have seen some young people who, even if they do not replace the toilet all-in-one machine when renting a house, will still replace the toilet cover, giving themselves a healthier and more comfortable experience
In addition, from the perspective of industry development, the current market competition has become increasingly fierce. As early as 2015, Taizhou, Zhejiang Province gradually established an intelligent toilet industry cluster, which once held nearly 60% of the market share. With the development of the market in recent years, Xiamen in Fujian and Chaozhou in Guangdong have also begun to form a scale and become the main industrial bases for smart toilets in China.
Regarding this, the person in charge of Yihe Bathroom stated that the rapid rise of other industrial bases has a certain impact on Taizhou, but from the perspective of the overall trend of industry development, this is a good thing that is conducive to the long-term development of the industry, The intelligent toilet is a product with a strong sense of experience. Only by using it firsthand can one understand the comfort of the product. Industrial bases such as Chaozhou are actually promoting and promoting the product, and everyone is working together to promote the rapid popularization and development of the industry
Intelligent toilets are an important category to improve people's quality of life, and their market space is self-evident. Many companies have expressed that it has the opportunity to become a product of the same level as large appliances such as ice washing in the future. Although there will not be a major market explosion in the short term, with the deepening and popularization of the comfortable experience of intelligent toilets, it continues to meet people's aspirations for a better life, and its market future is foreseeable.