Massage Chair Industry Update – 1/8/24

January 16, 2024
 By Dr. Alan Weidner
January 16, 2024
 By Dr. Alan Weidner

Massage Chair Industry Update – 1/8/24

Hi, I’m Doctor Alan Weidner from Massage Chair Relief, and today is our bi-weekly massage chair. Industry update for Monday, January 8th, 2024. It’s a whole new year. The last time I talked to you was at the tail end of December. And now we have a lot of hopes and goals for 2024. I hope it’s a good year for you all and myself and our company as well. Tomorrow I’m heading to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, which is a big deal every year in January in Las Vegas. And companies come from around the world to showcase their products.

 

[00:00:52]

Now, when I go there, it is a madhouse, it’s just shoulder-to-shoulder people. And I don’t go there to look at what other industries are doing. All I go to look at is what the massage chair industry is doing. And I’ll be visiting with Human Touch®, who has a booth there. I’ll be visiting with Daiwa, who has a booth there. They actually have two booths there I will be visiting with SYNCA-Wellness and my friend Nicholas Beese who’s there. He’s the guy who runs the whole US distribution of massage chairs for SYNCA. SYNCA is the company name, but Johnson Tech is the parent company.

 

[00:01:37]

Under the Johnson Tech umbrella is SYNCA, which is a brand of massage chairs. It’s a huge international company. They have other healthcare products like treadmills, etc. but SYNCA is their flagship massage chair company. And the factory in which those chairs are built is called Fujiiryoki. And that factory was bought by Johnson Tech two, three, four years ago. A product of that union of Johnson Wellness and the Fujiiryoki factory is the JP 3000, which was just recently released last year. And we have it on our website. And that chair is almost 100% made in Japan.

[00:02:34]

There are still components that are made in other countries, but the majority of it, 80% plus, maybe even more is made in Japan now at that factory. We have that chair at our Northern California store in Fremont, California. But when I go there tomorrow, I’m looking to see what else you’ve got cooking. I know Nicholas, who’s going to be our guest on our live streaming in the future, and I’ll talk about that in a moment. He says they’ve got some pretty cool things in store. So I don’t know what they’re going to have tomorrow. Or we’ll have to wait till maybe the end of February or whatever when I go to visit him.

 

[00:03:12]

But anyway, they are going to be there and they have a booth also. And there are a couple of other companies that I’m going to be visiting. Bodyfriend is one of them. They’re a Korean retailer. They’re huge in the Far East in Asia. They’re kind of in the United States. They’ve been here for a number of years, but they’re not really taking off the way they had originally planned. Maybe they underestimated the market here. I’m not sure. But they do make good chairs. Those chairs are made in the Rotai factory, which is the same factory that builds Human Touch® chairs, some Osaki chairs, Daiwa chairs, and Infinity chairs.

 

[00:03:54]

It’s a very, very good factory. And I’ve been to that factory, and it’s one impressive factory, I’ll tell you. They’re going to be there. There’s a chair there that I’m interested to carry and become a dealer for. We had an arrangement through Furniture for Life where we could retail Body Friend chairs, but that arrangement ended a few years ago. But we did sell a few of their chairs. And they’re nice-looking chairs. They look a lot like some of the Infinity chairs and some of the Daiwa chairs, but they have some of their own innovation in some of the features, and I’m eager to see what they’ve got cooking.

 

[00:04:31]

Also, there’s a company called CERAGEM, and I’ve heard of CERAGEM years and years ago. And you may have even been familiar with that. They had a flatbed that people could come and try out at a showroom. And if you wanted to buy a chair, they told you how you could buy it. Or it wasn’t a chair, it was a bed, and you could buy it. But that company at the time, I understood was out of business. Now, the fellow who has reached out to me from them is the guy I’m going to be seeing there, and he says they’re now starting to do some massage chairs. So, I’m curious to see.

[00:05:08]

It’s a Korean company. And of course, even though they’re Korean companies like Body Friend, the chairs are typically all built in China. But the question is, which factory is building them? There are a lot of massage chair factories in China. Not all of them are great. There are literally hundreds of them. And it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve got, maybe find out what factory they’re built in. They’re kind of venturing into some massage chairs, so may be a little iffy. I don’t know yet. The chairs are different than the beds, of course

 

[00:05:44]

And I’ll take a video of this stuff. I’m charging my camera now. I’m charging the microphone and all that stuff for the visit tomorrow. What else about CES? I think that’s just about it. Anyway, I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to be visiting with Cliff Levin. He’s the CEO and president of Furniture for Life, whose chairs we represented ever since they started. Before that, when he owned Family Inada USA, the US distributor for Inada. we became very good friends. And even though they have changed their business model, where they sell strictly through their own stores and not through third-party stores like mine, we have maintained a good friendship. We’re going to be chit-chatting and having dinner together.

 

[00:06:49]

And of course, we will talk about the industry and talk about massage chairs. He has a lot of pretty cool insights into the industry. Their chairs are built in China, but a lot of their chairs they’ve designed themselves from the ground up. He always has some pretty interesting perspectives that maybe some of the other companies don’t have that don’t frequent China or just order their chairs from China and they come in. But he really does have some cool insights, so I’m going to be picking his brain a bit too and I’ll share. If there’s something there to be learned and something there to be shared, I will share it with you.

 

[00:07:23]

And at the end of the month, I’m going to the Furniture Market, also in Las Vegas. And the Furniture Market is a little different. CES is where people bring innovative technologies to the market. The Furniture Market is more furniture, so massage chairs will be there, but you’ll also see sofas, tables, beds, and everything furniture. Whereas CES is more technological. So, the massage chairs cross the barriers of both. Typically we’ll see Osaki there and Cozzia. Cozzia and Ogawa are the same company. We will visit them. And anybody else that’s showing up there, we’ll check them out and see what’s cooking.

[00:08:06]

But I’ll also let you know what’s going on from what I learned at the Las Vegas Furniture Market. They also have a Furniture Market in High Point, South Carolina. I believe it’s South Carolina. And that’s the other big furniture market. So, there’s one on either side of the country. And it’s really quite impressive. Unless you’re a retailer or a distributor of furniture, you can’t get into the show much or there’s not a great chance of getting into the show. But when you’re in there, let me tell you, it’s just three monolithic buildings in Vegas. They’re huge.

 

[00:08:42]

And they’re just full to the brim of furniture distributors and manufacturers. It’s incredible. I bring my wife to that one when I go. And of course, she’s not looking at massage chairs. She’s looking more at other stuff. But it’s remarkable. Both of those shows are remarkable. Anyways, I’ve talked enough about that. Now, live stream on the 17th at 3:00 Eastern time. Our guest is going to be Christy Kim, who’s the owner of Tru Massage Chairs. That’s T-R-U. We sell a few of their models and have a couple of them in some of our showrooms. She’s going to be our guest on January 17th.

 

[00:09:24]

And then in February tentatively, we have John Cribbs, who’s the VP of Cozzia. He’s going to be our guest in February. And then in March, the previously mentioned Nicholas Beast from SYNCA is going to be on our live stream, our show. And all of you who are watching will be invited to attend. You can be on the live stream and ask questions and inquire about our guests. We broadcast on our Facebook page. We broadcast on our YouTube channel. And now they’ve integrated Twitter, so we’ll be able to have some interaction on Twitter also when we broadcast.

 

[00:10:11]

So, in March we hope to have Nicholas Beese from SYNCA. And then in April, we hope to have Michael Olpin, with whom years ago we became friends. He’s the head of the stress management clinic at Weber State University in northern Utah. And he bought some chairs for me. And so, we got to really know each other, well, and one day we had lunch together, and I pitched the idea of him maybe doing a study about massage chairs and how they help health. Because that’s a stress management clinic where the staff and students go to sit on massage chairs or whatever.

 

[00:10:58]

And they have other modalities there, like a hydro massage bed. They have some meditative music and chromotherapy and things like that. Anyway, I suggested to him, that he should do a study on this stuff because there are no massage chair studies out there. There are massage studies, but not massage chair studies. Even though there’s crossover and they’re both doing massage, there’s never been anything to show that robotic massage chairs actually do anything. Even though we all know they do because we see it with our customers all the time.

 

[00:11:32]

Well, he took that to heart, and with some students in their master’s program there at Weber State, started to do a study and quantify the results that they had. They measured pain levels 1 to 10, stress levels 1 to 10, and blood pressure and pulse rates. And they measured that for over 4000 participants. They measured them before and after the study. The results were statistically significant, which means it wasn’t just a slight difference with comparing to a placebo or another modality or whatever. This was statistically significant.

 

[00:12:25]

It was a significant enough difference in the results that it merited the publishing of the study. And they did publish. They published three studies. And Doctor Olpin has now created a relaxed software. It’s software that helps you to relax and manage stress. But it’s not just a thing that is like an app that you listen to music on to relax you or have people talking relaxing things or telling stories. And I’ve used those. Those are very, very good apps. His is more of a course about stress and relaxation, dealing with stress, preventing stress, and managing stress.

 

[00:13:18]

It’s not just music with a voice speaking soothing words. In his program, he actually teaches you how to avoid stretch stress and how to manage stress. And of course, they have components of the program that you can use on your earbuds or your EarPods, and listen to on your phone when you’re trying to relax. We’re going to have him come and speak and then hopefully in May. And I just broached this subject with Justin Milne. He’s our main technician in Utah. And if you ever saw the video that I did years ago comparing a low-brand cheap Amazon chair that’s $500 versus, at that time, it was the Infiniti Genesis.

 

[00:14:05]

Before, it was a Genesis Max. And he took the back off of them and showed you the differences between a high-quality chair and a lower-quality chair. At the time, we felt that was an important video to do because we were getting inundated with people saying, ‘Hey, I can get a chair for 500 bucks or $1,000 from Amazon.’ Well, you know what? We got a $500 chair from Amazon, we opened it up and Justin went through them and compared them between the premium chair and the low-brand or the low-cost no-brand massage chair. And the differences were profound.

 

[00:14:51]

And you can go back and watch that on the YouTube channel. By the way, our YouTube channel is youtube.com/massagechairrelief. Pretty easy to remember. I’ve asked Justin to be my guest in the spring, and I’m hoping we can have him in May. I think he would be very interesting to talk to because he’s very good at fixing our massage chairs. He’s fantastic. But he’s also made some comments recently that surprised me. He said when he first started working with us, which was years ago, it was maybe 1 or 2 chairs a week to a few chairs a month that he was repairing.

 

[00:15:26]

And he says, now there’s maybe one to 3 or 4 a day that they have to repair. So, massage chairs are becoming more and more a part of the wellness landscape in the United States. And he does a fantastic job in taking care of our customers here in Utah. We have different technicians, of course, that work around the country. And you know that we have a lifetime labor warranty, so we’re connected with dozens of technicians around the country to make sure that we get people who are close to you and people who know what they’re doing. Anyway, Justin is going to be a guest and he’ll be available.

 

[00:15:59]

I think that’d be a really good one to listen to because he will have some opinions about some chairs that maybe are more problematic, or what types of chairs have more problems, or what some of the common problems are that you can expect to see. And so, we’ve got tentative scheduling through May. And of course, in my weekly digital newsletter, The Massage Chair Advisor, I will publish the dates and the times, who’s speaking, and who our guest is. And you are welcome to attend any of those. That’s open to anyone who wants to visit and participate.

 

[00:16:34]

You don’t even have to participate, just be there and listen and hear what they have to say. It’s good stuff and it’s all stuff that’s about product, massage care, massage attention, and anything in the massage industry we want to have on that live stream. I would love to have someone from one of the factories in China. And there is a guy that that that I met when I was there a number of years ago, and I would like to talk to maybe someone like him who’s fluent in English that can come and speak on their factory, what makes their factory unique and what the manufacturing and production of massage chairs in China is really like. Because it’s not at all what I had expected.

 

[00:17:16]

I had expected some old-school, child labor laws, all this stuff that you hear about in the press you know, little children running around working for people in a sweatshop where there’s no windows. And this is in my mind what? How I imagined it years ago. And I went to the factory there in Shanghai. I went to Shanghai, and I was picked up by a representative of the factory, and it was a 2.5-hour drive to go to the factory. They took me out there and it blew me away. It was the most modern-looking facility I’d ever seen anywhere, let alone in the massage chair industry. It was incredible. And it was massive.

 

[00:18:02]

And the capacity was huge. And the number of chairs they were pumping out was mind-boggling. Anyway, I would love to have a rep from one of the factories. And who knows, maybe it’ll be a factory in Japan. Maybe it’ll be a factory in China. Well, we’ve already talked to the factory for Luraco in Arlington Texas, so we’ve already got a flavor for that. But the scale of their production is quite a bit smaller than these factories that produce thousands of chairs for hundreds of companies. And so, I think that would be fantastic.

 

[00:18:37]

And if any of you have any suggestions on people you’d like me to invite to our livestream, please let me know. I’m open to suggestions. And of course, I don’t know what the availability is of people. And things change. People will say, ‘Yeah, I’ll be there,” and then we have to change the date. And the live stream in the massage chair industry is a new thing, and so I think maybe some of the people are still trying to understand what exactly I’m doing. A lot of people wonder, I guess, about that, especially in my own family. But if there’s anybody you’d like me to invite or a type of position or a person with a particular responsibility in the massage chair industry, let me know, and I can find someone amongst the companies that we represent.

 

[00:19:25]

Anyway, let me know if that’s of interest to you, or if there’s anybody that you are interested in me trying to reach out to. I’ve posted two videos recently that I really like. They’re good videos. One that I talked about is how massage chairs improve your health. I think I talked about this 1 or 2 episodes back, but the gist of it is it’s not just for back pain. Massage chairs can take care of a lot of different issues. And they’re even things that you would never think that a massage chair could help. And I’m not saying that it’ll help every condition, but we have seen some pretty interesting, almost miraculous situations where people who had no reason to expect any help from a massage chair, incidentally, helped them with something that they hadn’t even thought of a massage chair could help with.

 

[00:20:18]

So, I talk a little bit about some of those things. And then the second video is an interview that I did with a lady named Gina Gilden from Idaho. And she bought an Infiniti Luminary from us. And as you may or may not know, I do interviews with customers. I invite customers to go on Zoom and do a video interview. And not many people take the opportunity to do that. I think some people are just uncomfortable in front of the camera. But Gina was very open to doing it. And she bought the Luminary. And it was a great interview with some great insights, not just into the chair itself, but into the whole viewpoint of a buyer looking for a massage chair.

 

[00:20:57]

And I would recommend that you go to our website or go on to our YouTube channel and take a look at that. I think you could also go to the Infiniti Luminary product page on our website, and it should be under the video section. Anyway, take a look at those videos. Good stuff. Not terribly long videos, but good information in both of them. And then I wrote an article. This was right around Christmas time when people were buying chairs for gifts. I talked about the differences between new, used, and refurbished chairs. A lot of people are misled because they think that when they buy a used chair, like from Facebook Marketplace or Offer Up or whatever, think because the seller of the chair says warranties, the remaining warranties are available. It’s not!

 

[00:21:50]

There’s not one company that I’ve ever dealt with where they said the warranty could transfer if you as a buyer bought the chair and you want to sell it privately. No! The warranty does not transfer. The only time a warranty transfers is if a company refurbishes a chair. Maybe they have a bunch of chairs they had at a trade show, and they bring it back. And Infiniti does this. And I think Osaki does it. I think that Furniture For Life does this. And they will refurbish it, go over it, and grade it. There’s grade A, grade B, grade C, and they’ll sell it and they’ll include a warranty.

 

 

 

[00:22:21]

But even then, the warranty is usually 90 days, maybe a year tops. Anyway, a pre-owned chair that you buy privately will not have any warranty, no matter what they say or no matter what the seller believes or what the seller says, there will be no warranty. And it’s going to be terrible if you pay a high price for a chair, you have a problem, you call the company and there’s no warranty on this. Well, then you’re going to have to pay out of pocket. But you can still fix a good chair, a name-brand chair because they probably still have parts for a lot of them. And of course, there are technicians everywhere. And you can always call us to get the name of a technician in your area. But anyway, there is a difference.

 

[00:23:09]

And the biggest difference is warranty availability or not. And then the other big difference is the wear and tear on the chair. And sometimes, geez, you look at a chair and it looks pristine, and then you buy the chair and then there’s a problem with the chair. You get a technician come out and the technician says there was there’s a rat nest or there’s a mouse nest underneath this chair and they’ve chewed all the wires. We have seen that a number of times. Or everything’s rusted inside the guts of the chair. Maybe someone who had their chair out on a patio or something on the coast or in a very humid environment.

 

[00:23:50]

Now they look good, and you sit on it and it feels fine, but five months later, bang, you got weird stuff going on, like wires that aren’t working or something’s totally rusted when you look underneath the base. And these are all things that we have seen. So, you don’t know. But then there are other times when we’ll see a chair that looks pretty raggedy or, as my wife says, ‘pretty janky.’ And you think, ‘Oh, this chair is a piece of crap.’ And the only problem is that the upholstery is a little shredded, a little torn, or a little faded. And you buy the chair and it’ll give you another 2 or 3, four years. So, it’s hard to tell, but just know that there is a risk.

 

[00:24:32]

You’re running a risk when you buy used. You don’t know the history of the chair. The seller will tell you whatever you want to hear in many cases. And so, just buyer beware. You know how I am about buyer beware. I have a whole bloody booklet written on it that you can download on the website. But buyer beware. There are things out there that you don’t really know and don’t understand. And it could come back and bite you in the butt. And of course, you can always reach out to us if you have any questions about a chair, maybe a model, or getting parts for a model.

[00:25:05]

Maybe they tell you, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a problem with the roller mechanism, but you can get that from the supplier.’ Well, let us know and we’ll find out if the supplier actually even has parts for that chair anymore. Anyway, enough yakking. It seems like I haven’t covered a lot of topics, but I’ve yacked like crazy. But that’s pretty much it for this week’s Massage Chair Industry Update. I haven’t got too much information yet about any new models that are coming out in the immediate future. But of course, we’ll let you know as we find things out. And when I go to CES or the Furniture Market, I will let you know what I find out.

 

[00:25:41]

I have a suspicion that SYNCA might have something cooking up their sleeve, but I’ll find out, and then I’ll share it with you when they tell me I can share it with you. Because sometimes they’ll tell me ‘Hey, we got this new chair. Come try it out, but don’t talk to anybody about it yet because we’re not ready to release it.’ Anyway, I hope you found this video helpful. If you did, please feel free to thumbs up like us on our YouTube channel. Help us share the news or the word about massage chairs by sharing this video or any of our videos with your friends and family on your social media platforms. We appreciate that.

 

[00:26:16]

And finally, if you have any questions, you can feel free to give us a call at 888-259-5380. Whoever answers the phone will be able to help you before and after hours. I usually get the calls if my staff is in bed or they have something else going on outside of work. Believe it or not, they actually have a life. But as an owner, I don’t have much of a life outside of work, so call anytime. Anyway, I’m Doctor Alan Weidner from massagechairrelief.com, and I will see you again in two weeks. Bye-bye.


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