A man examines a toilet seat in a factory in Anshun, Guizhou province, which makes colorful seats with artistic designs. (Photo by Yang Jun/China Daily)
Imagine a toilet seat so artistic that it shows different colorful pictures when the lid closes in slow motion.
From the ones that glow at night to the ones that have 3D effects, made-in-China toilet seat covers have won the hearts of Western customers.
Chinese toilet seat maker Topseat is now selling around 2 million toilet seat covers every year globally, with its annual sales volume reaching $26 million, said its company executive.
"In Germany, we have taken a 60 percent share of the market for customized toilet seats, with that for mid to high-end ones reaching 80 percent," said Ni Shengming, deputy general manager of the company.
"At present, our main focus is the Western market, as customers there prefer fashionable toilet seats with a comfortable user experience, while Chinese ones favor clean white seats," said Ni.
In 2015, reports of Chinese tourists swarming into stores in Japan during the Chinese New Year holidays and buying all of the electronic toilet seats in stock sparked heated discussion and even furor among Chinese netizens, when it was later discovered that they were made in China.
Smart toilets, along with air purifiers and rice cookers, were included by a guideline released by the State Council in April 2016 to improve quality-oriented industries and the quality of made-in-China products.
From its factory in Anshun, Southwest China's Guizhou province, Topseat creates bright decorative toilet seats from locally sourced materials such as bamboo, straw stalks and bio-glues. Being eco-friendly is one of the major reasons for the company's popularity among Western customers, as they are more environmentally concerned, Ni said.
Topseat has signed a contract with Xiayun township in Anshun, which purchases straw stalks from local farmers on behalf of the company to turn the potential environmental hazards into business opportunity. Sales of straw-made toilet seats are expected to top 200,000 this year, according to the company.
Innovation is another key to the company's success. It has more than 5,000 pattern designs, everything from green bamboo leaves, flying birds, whales, turtles and the Eiffel Tower, and some even with relief sculptures and 3D effects.
One well-received cover can be used for both adult and babies, making it a good choice for potty training. Topseat uses a magnet to connect the toddler seat to the lid, so it is basically hidden when it is not used. In addition, the children's fingers will not get trapped as the lid and adult seat have the slow close feature.