The Los Angeles Times goes toilet shopping with members of China’s upwardly mobile class:
China’s housing boom has unleashed a bull market in fancy plumbing. No longer content with low-tech latrines, upwardly mobile Chinese are snapping up cutting-edge toilets loaded with high-efficiency flushing systems, heated seats and built-in bidets.
The surge underscores the desire of millions of Chinese to enjoy a better standard of living. And it has been a bonanza for plumbing manufacturers, which are vying for a piece of the world’s largest loo market. Nearly 19 million toilets are sold in China annually, about double the number sold in the U.S., said Victor Post, vice president of BRG Consult, a global building products consultancy.
“China is the most competitive market in the world,” said Larry Yuen, president of Kohler Asia, which has 11 factories in China. “There are brands from Japan, Europe and America all fighting for market share.”
China’s porcelain revolution took off soon after the communist government gave the green light to private property development just more than a decade ago. Since then, the amount of new urban residential space unveiled each year has doubled. Most apartments are delivered bare, meaning buyers have to outfit them with basics such as bathroom fixtures.