Latrine diffusion patterns across 502 villages in Benin, West Africa, were analysed to explore factors driving initial and increasing levels of household adoption in low-coverage rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Variables explaining adoption related to population density, size, infrastructure/services, non-agricultural occupations, road and urban proximity, and the nearby latrine adoption rate, capturing differences in the physical and social environment, lifestyles and latrine exposure involved in stimulating status/prestige and well-being reasons for latrine adoption. Contagion was most important in explaining adoption initiation. Cluster analysis revealed four distinct village typologies of demand for latrines which provide a framework for tailoring promotional interventions to better match the different sanitation demand characteristics of communities in scaling-up sanitation development and promotion programmes.