Fascinating article by Jonathan Cheng about a Hong Kong based entrepreneur, Lam Sai-wing, in the gold business who created a gold toilet and scored a marketing coup for this business. Something outrageous like a gold toilet (and an entire golden palace) helped grow Lams business by differentiating it from others in the retail jewelry market.
Those odd prices (ie $3.68) at Wal-Mart (which they may be dumping) were created by Sam Walton to grab attention — as did the elephants and other things that Walton used to build the base of small town Wal-Marts that would eventually become the world’s largest retailer. Walton had to do something drastic as he entered the retail market full of new competitors. Wal-Mart, Target, and KMart were all founded in 1959 — and these are just the large, successes that prospered.
I believe that any business, regardless of industry or customer base, can use a golden toilet.
From the article,
He has spent the past decade constructing a palace of gold, decked out in six tons of the precious metal. In recent years, the palace has become an attraction mainland Chinese tour groups couldn’t miss, and a boon for Mr. Lam’s retail jewelry business…
As far as Mr. Lam is concerned, the golden toilet is more than a Guinness World Record-certified, 24-karat, fully functional flushable throne.
Mr. Lam, a former goldsmith, came up with the toilet gimmick in 2001 as he was pushing his jewelry-manufacturing business into a fierce retail market…
As a boy growing up in Cultural Revolution-era China, Mr. Lam, now 53 years old, was obsessed with gold. He says he found himself transfixed with one sentence in Vladimir Lenin’s writing: “When we are victorious on a world scale, I think we shall use gold for the purpose of building public lavatories in the streets of some of the largest cities of the world.”
Lenin’s words alluded to a socialist utopia with no need for money, but Mr. Lam read them as an indictment of the poverty-stricken existence he found himself in. He rarely had meat to eat, and after he turned 7, Mr. Lam struggled to help his single mother and six siblings sell bananas and peanuts.