Lixil Group Corporation, Tokyo, showcased its Smart Toilet – SATO – at the recently concluded World Toilet Summit (WTS) held in Mumbai. Speaking to Clean India Journal, Jin Montesano, Executive Officer and Senior Managing Director Chief Public Affairs Officer, LIXIL Group Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, shared her plans for India.
There was a time in India where no one would talk about sanitation or toilets. But today, we are very close in achieving the ODF status in this country.
The global leaders across the world say that if India can do Swachh Bharat movement with that skill, complexity and cultural overlays, even we can achieve it as well. It is important that we do not forget how much of a significant impact this program has had and what PM Modi has achieved in such a short period of time.
Open Defecation Free (ODF) status is a vital milestone. On the other hand, it simply means that people who defecate in the open are now defecating in a fixed point. We would not regard this fixed point as basic sanitation. About 80% of the world’s population practicing open defecation are living in rural settings, which is the same for India. However, the fast growing urban situation is important too. More and more urban centers are coming across India as a microcosm of the larger sanitation issues. Millions of people are living in an unhealthy environment and we must tackle that. We cannot achieve our greater purpose as a company, if we do not play an active leadership role in tackling sanitation and hygiene. We cannot say that we have succeeded in any of this if we cannot succeed in India.
So for us, if the global sanitation market is large, India is at the heart of it and we must win here and demonstrate that we can be successful.
As a private sector company and selfappointed toilet nerds, we know toilets inside-out and understand how to match toilet technology and human centric innovation by creating products and solutions that are going to deliver what consumers are looking for in terms of durability, quality and price. It is about insisting in getting the right product to the right consumer at the right price point. This we believe is a challenge we can tackle as a company that innovates toilets.
Today, a suboptimal toilet that a consumer might be using, has a foul odour. It buzzes with flies and insects which can give you disease. Sometimes the children can’t use it as they are large. These are all the design parameters. Our engineers address these problems. If a simple design can reinvent the way a person experiences the toilet, that consumer behavior change becomes much more likely to be sustainable. Right now, we know the reasons why people don’t want to use one of these toilets because of the smell and insects.
Cut-through innovation can shift mindsets and behaviours. But not by itself, because there are so many barriers – cultural, social and psychological that block our ability to shift. However, if you have new products and solutions that help you, it can change your behaviour a little at a time. This is where we see human centric designs and innovations in toilets contributing to those who are sure they want to go in and use it.
We are putting half of our global resources for SATO system to succeed in India. These include human capitals, talent, financial resources and investment. We have scaled up our workforce across eight States. To try and build channels, distributors, partners and local manufacturers.
To make a real impact on the Indian market, we are bringing in the next generation product which is called the SATO V TRAP system. It is a twin pit flush latrine system which has been endorsed as the ideal kind of sustainable toilet by the Swachh Bharat mission. Scaling this in the eight States identified can win partners and channels, which is going to help us figure out how we are going to win much more broadly in India.”