Asuka Osada, UK marketing manager of Toto London tells Trend-Monitor about the consumer trends behind the rising popularity of the shower toilet.

Interview by Emma Hedges

Toto’s Washlet was first launched in 1980 and has been a fixture in Japanese bathrooms for three decades. While the European market has been slow to appreciate the benefits of the shower toilet, at last the product is starting to make inroads over here.

TM: Sales of shower toilets in Europe finally seem to be growing – why do you think this is?

AO: A significant change is the increase in the number of global travellers there are, especially those visiting Japan where Toto’s Washlets are commonplace.

Global travel especially to Japan has had a significant impact on sales of shower toilets – Asuka Osada, UK Marketing Manager, Toto Click To Tweet

The experience is often transformative for people, as once they have experienced the high levels of hygiene offered by the product they want to replicate that back at home.

Also, social media has played a part in communications, so whether it’s a celebrity or a close friend who posts their experience on Instagram, the message is reaching out to new audiences on an almost constant basis.

Added to that, European awareness is increasing through the extensive marketing that reinforces the brand’s strengths – reliability, quality and innovation. Washlets are now being specified by influential architects and interior designers through significant architectural projects, five-star hotels and a network of clients.

TM: Are there any wider social trends driving the increasing popularity of the shower toilet?

AO: Wellness is definitely one driver as a current trend – the extensive wellness zones in both homes and hotels are rapidly becoming the norm. Hygiene is another. Many customers are understanding the benefits and positive effects of using a Washlet, which is really significant. This is a design where it is easy to appreciate the hygiene and comfort factors.

TM: As so many other European brands are now producing shower toilets, how is Toto setting itself apart?

AO: We have sold over 40 million Washlets worldwide in almost 40 years, and it is the number-one bestseller globally in 2016 and 2017. We have the know-how and the experience.

Our key differentiation is that we offer hygiene features such as Rimless Tornado Flush, Cefiontect ultra-smooth glazing, and above-the-rim wand designed to stay clean, as standard. There are plenty of additional features that we offer too.

TM: What technology will be coming to the European market in the future?

AO: Our priority is research for the ease of cleaning and customer comfort. E-water for example [water that is electrolysed to give it a slightly acidic pH value with an antibacterial effect] is a technology that keeps products clean all the time by reducing limescale and bacteria.

We only have this technology for the Washlet at the moment in Europe, but in Japan this is expanding to include the shower room, washbasin and also the kitchen, helping to keep all those areas clean.

TM: How do you think the way in which people use their bathrooms may change in the future?

AO: In Japan, a bath is said to be where you cleanse your soul, not just your body, as it provides a luxurious place for meditation and relaxation.

Hygiene and wellness are important factors, and products that help improve this will always be important, as will technology that helps to make cleaning easier for people. The bathroom will become the centre of wellness in the home, and according to Toto’s customer feedback, ‘owning a Washlet is like having a personal spa’.

In Japan, a bath is said to be where you cleanse your soul, not just your body, as it provides a luxurious place for meditation and relaxation

Asuka Osada, UK Marketing Manager, Toto

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