Sanitaryware in China on an Optimistic Bend

Published Date : Jul 18, 2014

Sanitaryware refers to any plumbing fixtures such as washbasins, bathtubs, toilet bowls and taps, made either of ceramic or non-ceramic material. China’s sanitaryware industry [] has seen tremendous expansion in recent years owing to factors such as increasing urbanization, accelerated economic growth and improving disposable income of residents. This in turn, has aided demand for housing and home renovations and the need for environment-friendly products. According to a U.S.-based independent global consulting firm, China was not only one of the biggest sanitaryware markets in the world in the year 2011 as far as retail revenue was concerned, but was also the largest exporter of sanitaryware products in the same year.

Sanitaryware products 

The sanitaryware market can be classified into various categories:

Based on raw material: Sanitaryware can be divided into two categories on the basis of type of raw material used while manufacturing: ceramic and non-ceramic products. Ceramic ware includes washbasins, sinks, toilet bowls, squat pans, urinals and bathtubs. Non-ceramic sanitaryware may include fixtures made of metal, stainless steel, enamel or glassware. Tapware such as flushers, faucets, pipes, valves, shower heads and bath cabinets also fall under non-ceramic products. 

Based on quality: The sanitaryware market in China can be classified into three segments based on quality, type of materials used, design and end application. These are: premium, mid-to-high end, and low end. 

In terms of quality, bathroom fixtures combine functionality and aesthetic appeal. Apart from the basic functions, premium and high-end products come with fireproof outer layers, hydrophobic shields, anti-germ coating, hybrid seat covers, seat warmers, electronic bath fittings, health faucets, sensor and clinical taps, etc.

Various materials are used in sanitaryware products: ceramic, acrylic, porcelain, stainless steel, satin aluminum, resin, granite and marble. Ceramics, for instance, is most often used in sanitaryware due to features such as moisture resistance, durability, abrasion resistance, resistance to chemicals, color permanence and hygiene.

Speaking of designs, sanitaryware products can now be designed to suit individual tastes and lifestyles. Geometric-shaped designs, free-standing wash basins, and bathtubs in a plethora of colors are now available in the market. End applications refer to where the product might be placed, whether at households, hotels, etc.

Based on target market: The market in China can be categorized into residential properties, commercial spaces such as hotels, shopping malls, theaters and restaurants; and public buildings such as hospitals, schools, airports, and train and bus stations. 

Factors influencing the market

There have been numerous drivers that have led to a surge in the sanitaryware market in China. These factors have aided the key players in forming and refining strategies that will, in the end, enhance competitiveness and increase revenue.

Economic growth: China has seen tremendous economic growth since the economic reformation of 1980s. Moreover, the per capita nominal GDP has also increased. The government has also announced a series of stimulus policies

Accelerated urbanization: With a growth in the economy, there has been an inundation of rural inhabitants to urban areas, accelerating urbanization. This has led to a shift in lifestyle, purchasing patterns and consumption habits. 

Rising disposable income: The per capita annual disposable income in urban residents has sharply risen, which has impacted the purchasing power of consumers and led to an increase in demand for home renovations and mid to high-end sanitaryware. 

Demand for environmental and consumer-friendly products: Environment consciousness and attention to institutions employing and educating people with special needs, has given rise to innovative products such as smart showers with reduced water consumption and space utilization, low maintenance and sustainable raw materials, shower chairs, wall mounted railings and grab bars.

Global market outlook

The penetration rate of sanitaryware products in China in 2012 was 45.7% and the number is only expected to rise. Analysts forecast that the ratio will escalate to 59.3% by 2017. As per a recent study, China tops the list of Asian sanitaryware product manufacturing. The major regional markets identified include Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang. Some of the leading sanitaryware producers that dominate the market in China are KOHLER, TOTO, ARROW, LIXIL, YING, DongPeng, Hegii Sanitaryware, FAENZA and HCG.

Sanitaryware has moved from being a basic necessity to being a product of luxury; ranging right from classic and simple to modern and chic. Based on reports by a market intelligence company, China’s sanitaryware industry has witnessed an average annual growth rate of 16.3% from 2007 to 2012.

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