China Product Idea: Upscale Toilet Paper Cans

First posted: Nov 23, 2013
Last updated: May 25, 2022

I often come across ideas for products or businesses, and many of those ideas involve China. I don’t have time to do them all myself, so I figure I might as well just share them on the blog and add in a little market analysis insight as well.

Here’s an idea for somebody to use: A premium, branded toilet paper can.

In China, toilet paper isn't normally flushed down the toilet. Instead, there are waste baskets in the bathroom stalls. These are often plastic mesh style baskets with a plastic bag inside, or cheap-looking metal cans with lids. From what I’ve heard, this is common in other Asian countries as well.

Chinese bathrooms can be awful. Upscale establishments in China prefer to use premium toilet products with obvious branding. By “toilet products”, I mean things like toilets, urinals, sinks and faucets. By "obvious branding" I mean that brand logos such as "Toto" are clearly visible. In a country where many bathrooms are dirty and poorly equiped, the businesses that do invest in having clean, well-equiped bathrooms really like to flaunt it.

I think it would be easy to sell these busines a new product – a premium toilet paper waste can. It should:

  • Have obvious branding. Bathroom product brands such as Toto and Duravit are strong in China.
  • Be a foreign-sounding brand. This is the trick. Western companies probably haven’t given much thought to toilet paper waste baskets, as their more focused on selling existing product lines in China. But that clean & civilized image would be a lot easier to promote with a foreign brand than a Chinese one.
  • Have a smooth, polished, clean-feeling design.
  • Optionally, it should include some type of technology. What kind? I’m not sure. The point is just that it needs to do something and that something should be obvious to users.

I can’t be sure if this product already exists or not, but I haven’t been able to find it by searching for it or asking friends. I have seen regular garbage cans in the bathroom, even nice ones. But I haven’t noticed branding, design or technology being used to create a high-end high-priced toilet paper can. If this product does exist, it hasn't been promoted well enough.

A toilet paper garbage China in a Starbucks in Nanjing, China.
What do you think? Is this toilet paper can seen in a Starbucks in China worthy of the Starbucks brand? I think not!

Somebody please develop this product. If you need help marketing it in China, feel free to contact me.

What do you think? Would this product sell well in China?




That's an interesting idea! On the other hand, judging by filthy conditions of China's washrooms, it's unlikely they are too keen on investing into improving toilet experience. Besides, if one day they do figure out that the used toilet paper can be flushed, the whole business venture will go down the drain along with it...

Thanks for sharing your idea. A friend bought a 1000 yuan garbage can for his apartment. It was imported or designed in Europe. It has a motion sensor that opens its cover.

Yes, any kind of luxury item will have high demand in China.

Yeah, a motion sensor! :) That is useful too.

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