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The French, The Italians, The English, and The Bidet
By: Cindy Wendland
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Our first exposure to a bidet in America was while watching the movie Crocodile Dundee. Mic Dundee yelled out the swank hotel window the purpose of that bathroom fixture. Bidets are not commonplace in the U.S., so some Americans are not familiar with bidets. BBC News ran a great story on bidets that stated that the French invented them, the English think they’re gross, and the Italians can’t live without them.

Are they a great marketing opportunity waiting to happen in the U.S.? Or are they a luxury item that will only end up in high-end hotels and luxury homes?

On Twitter, some of the pictured usages for a bidet are: a baby bath, a beverage cooler, and a toilet side table. Apparently, some people think you can use the bathroom and refresh your drink at the same time. The BBC asked people to post unique ways they use the bidet. The stories should be interesting, since a bidet seems to be much like the grand Jacuzzi tub in many bathrooms — a necessity during design but rarely used in everyday life.

For those who don’t have a bidet and grew up cleaning baby bottoms with diapers wipes, those wipes were remarketed and transitioned into a necessity for tweens and beyond. The cool moisture makes going #2 — more bearable? more enjoyable? perhaps just more clean. The downside to these adult wipes is that they are increasingly being blamed for sewer clogs. We tend to think if we can flush it, things are good.

The bidet seems to be more of a cultural fixture in other countries than a necessity for Americans. More Americans would spend money on a heated or padded toilet seat than a bidet. Maybe if bidets became a cultural item in India, Bill Gates wouldn’t have to focus on new toilet designs. No matter how well a product is marketed or branded, cultural sensitivity and government regulations have a large impact on whether the item will be accepted and mainstreamed. Maybe the next Italian running for office in America could help with the platform of “A bidet for every family!”

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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