Ever remodeled a bathroom and had to select from the wide varieties of commodes? I have done several bathrooms in my time, and ensuring you get a workhorse for less money and fewest gallons per flush is daunting, especially when you look at the price tag.
I looked at the Japanese Toto toilets advertised regularly in the magazines I read; however, the cost for a really neat heated seat with little water usage was nearly the price of the bathroom remodel itself. Instead, I settled for a custom-color Kohler with a self-closing lid so it doesn’t slam.
Toto Toilets Are Smart
Toto toilets are so upscale that few Americans have ever used one. Japan is finally ready to take on the American Standard U.S. market with its smart toilets. Apparently, Toto wants to be like Apple. No one knew they needed an iPhone until Apple came along and made phones smart. Same goes for toilets, according to Toto’s chief executive, Mr. Yoshiaki Fujimori.
In a Wall Street Journal story May 27, 2014, Smart Toilets Arrive in U.S., Fujimori said,”Industry presents iPhone–industry presents shower toilet.”
While the Japanese are accustomed to having smart toilets in their homes, Americans could care less. That’s why it’s a marketing objective to infiltrate the U.S. by putting the smart toilets in hotels so people get a firsthand look and feel for what that toilet can do. When they experience a smart toilet, people talk about it to friends and take pictures and post on social media. There’s no better marketing than that.
The features of the Toto Washlet are nothing like the standard U.S. commode.
- The lids lift automatically.
- The seats heat up.
- “Built-in bidets make cleanup a breeze.”
- Some of the bowls have built-in speakers to sync with users’ smartphones and play a personalized selection of music.
What do you think, America? Are you ready for a Washlet that sprays water (I know there’s got to be programmable water temperatures and memory foam for the weight of the user to be recognized — just kidding)?
Marketing Smart Toilets to American Customers
How does a foreign company get upscale customers to buy a new commode? Every home comes with three to four commodes in higher-end neighborhoods in the U.S.
Only when a bathroom remodel is planned can Toto expect to go head to head with Kohler. How should the company do that? Mr. Fujimoro had a good thought. He said he had to “contribute to the local toilet industry.”
I’m not so sure that’s the best route to get Americans to open pocket books for a $5,000+ smart toilet. In fact, it’s not going to work at all. Toto needs to make friends with Hollywood and start auctioning toilets at charity events so people want the prestige of sitting on a heated Washlet with piped in personalized music from the bowl.
Once the Toto gets placed in a few movies and is written into a scene where the actors try to see how powerful the bidet feature is without actually sitting on the toilet (do you think there’s an automatic dryer, too?), then other people might want to try one.
Maybe Toto should start a marketing campaign with Proctor and Gamble or Kimberly Clark. After all, aren’t toilet paper manufacturers removing sheeting and charging us more? They need some good marketing, too, to increase brand loyalty and keep customers choosing the upscale toilet paper alongside the even more upscale smart toilet.