Massage Chair Industry Update – 3/22/24

April 4, 2024
 By Dr. Alan Weidner
April 4, 2024
 By Dr. Alan Weidner

Massage Chair Industry Update – 3/22/24

Hello, I’m Doctor Alan Weidner from Massage Chair Relief. And welcome to our bi-weekly massage chair Industry Update for Friday, March 22nd, 2024. I appreciate you being here with me today. I had an interesting last couple of weeks. Probably the most pronounced thing was when I visited Southern California. I went to visit my showroom and some of our suppliers. I dropped by Daiwa and had a wonderful visit with Miku, Charles, and Michael Kogure, who’s the president of Daiwa. I got to try out the new Daiwa Pegasus hybrid, which takes the old Pegasus body and some of the same features but gives it an L track with two sets of four rollers, so it has eight rollers.

 

[00:01:12]

I sat on it, and it was a nice, intense massage. It’s definitely more intense than the old Pegasus Smart. It still has the shoulders that go in and out to handle broad-shouldered or thin-shouldered people or thin girth, overall thinner, larger girth because if they flare out like this. So it fits in more than just shoulders, but also midsection and hips. We had a wonderful lunch and got to talk business and Michael showed me. And I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this, their chairs are made at a Rotai factory, and he’s been associated with Rotai for decades.

 

[00:01:49]

I don’t know if you know this, but Daiwa is one of the earliest massage chair distributors in the United States. They started over 40 years ago. The only other company I can think of that has been around that long is Human Touch®. The ownership of Daiwa has stayed with Michael, his people, and his family, and they have very nice products. They only started selling their chairs through retailers like us, I think it was maybe four years ago, right before Covid, 4 or 5 years ago. That was when I went to the Furniture Market and met with them. They were meeting with different retailers to encourage them to carry their products.

 

[00:02:29]

And I immediately knew that they were Rotai of chairs from the look of them. And Rotai is a very good factory. They make a lot of massage chairs for a lot of different distributors like Human Touch®, Osaki, Infinity, and Body Friend. I’m probably missing something, but anyway, it’s a good factory. And I knew their chairs were made there, so I knew the chairs were good quality. And they had a prototype there of the Daiwa Supreme Hybrid, which was the first split track chair we’ve ever seen. And I was excited about that when I saw it. I knew this was going to be a big deal. And so, we immediately signed on as retailers for Daiwa. And it’s been a wonderful relationship ever since.

 

[00:03:13]

We do a lot of dealings with them, partly because we sell their chairs, but also because we have a lifetime labor warranty. Even after the warranty, the labor warranty is over, which is one year. We step in and take care of the service calls. And if you ever have a question about whether our lifetime labor warranty is really valid. We’ve heard some folks tell their customers that our lifetime labor warranty is a scam. Well, if you want to know for sure, call any of our distributors and they can tell you that we certainly do what we say we do, which is offer labor coverage for our customers after the factory warranty for labor ends, whether it’s one year or whether you have an extended warranty of 3 or 5 years after that.

 

[00:04:02]

Whenever that ends, we take care of you in terms of labor coverage. Anyway, I had a wonderful visit with them. And then I visited with Body Friend. And they’re a company that we have carried their chairs briefly in the past when they were being distributed by Furniture for Life. And that relationship ended and so did our participation in selling Body Friend chairs. They have reached out to me a couple of times over the years, but more so over the last 12 months wanting to meet with me to discuss maybe just starting to distribute their chairs. And I assume they’re doing this with other retailers as well.

 

[00:04:45]

So, I finally got a chance to go see them when I was in Southern California a week ago. I had a wonderful visit with Benny and C.J., two of the principals there in the US operations for Body Friend. Mind you, Body Friend is a Korean company. The chairs are Chinese in the Rotai factory. But they are the company’s Korean and they are the largest massage chair retailer in the world. And of course, when I say world, their world is primarily Asia. And in the United States, they’ve been here, I think, since 2017 or 2016, and they haven’t gained the ground or the foothold in the industry that they do in other countries.

 

[00:05:35]

Probably because the business here is different. The industry is different here. It’s much more competitive. There is a way bigger emphasis, or at least we’re moving towards more emphasis on service and support rather than just chairs with cool features. And so, it’s been a little bit of an adapting for them, I think. And I’m speaking just from my own observation, not because of anything they’ve told me. Anyway, they have changed their business model to allow for retailers. And so, while I was there, I sat on the two of their top chairs. One is called the Leonardo, and the other one is called the Phantom Robo. And that’s the one that has the legs that move independently of each other.

 

[00:06:18]

And I got to try that chair. I had to go to one of their stores to try that one. We are beginning a relationship with them. We’re just in the process of signing the papers and doing that. We will become a dealer for Body Friend promptly. And we anticipate having one or both of those models in our showrooms. But when you have a showroom, you have limited space and you know make room for their chairs. And so, we don’t have the room for all of them yet, including all the ones that we want to get, like the new Human Touch® Super Novo X, which should be coming out in another week or two.

 

[00:06:53]

And other chairs that come along, we like to make room. So what we do is we sell off the chairs that don’t sell as well and we make room that way. Or maybe there’s a discontinued model that we hear about, so we sell that floor model and we make room for new models. Anyway, that was pretty exciting. The pricing on the chairs of those two models are, the Da Vinci will be 11.7 and the Phantom Oroville will be 10.8. So, right along the same lines as other premium chairs that we sell. But I do know that their chairs are made in a very good factory, so I have a lot of faith in the lower failure rates.

 

 

[00:07:38]

I will mention, though, that we sold a few of their Pharaoh S II chairs when we were distributors for Furniture for Life and we didn’t have any problems like service calls or issues like that. However, after about 3 or 4 years, we had a couple of calls and so we had to take care of the service. But we were very unfamiliar with how to deal with their service because we didn’t have a phone number and we didn’t have an email. I had to do a little homework. I had to call around the numbers there, and eventually, I met Benny, who is the VP of business development for Body Friend. And he was wonderful to deal with. He was very informative and very helpful.

 

[00:08:29]

He’s the one who invited me to come back and check out their model for the retailers. He also hooked me up with your service department which was wonderful because one of our customers was in Colorado, and we had a hard time. We had to send out a technician because we were out of the factory warranty of labor. So, we had to go out there and send out a guy to figure out how to work on it and what to do with it. And so, we figured out what parts we needed. But they’ve been wonderful ever since I’ve gotten to a hold of the right people. So I’m comfortable now knowing that whatever the situation that arises, Body Friend will be there to stand behind the product and support us.

 

[00:09:10]

Because when they support us, they’re supporting our customers. Sometimes, massage chair companies lose sight of the fact that there’s a difference between us being their customer and our customers being their customers as well, and some of the companies have a really firm grasp on that. So, if something happens to one of our customers and it’s upsetting to the customer and the massage chair company isn’t getting it taken care of. Some of these companies really treat our customers like their own, which they think it’s are, even though they buy through the middleman, which is us. And so, I was very pleased with the support they gave me once I found the right people to get in contact with. Anyways, that’s new.

 

[00:09:53]

And then the last visit of that day was to visit Nicholas Beese, who’s the head massage chair guy for Johnson Wellness Tech in the United States. The chair lines that he has are Synca Wellness and Inner Balance Wellness. And I’ve talked about them in the past. They’ve made some huge changes in their business model. Well, not just the business model, but the business model and the business setup. Now the massage chair department, if you will, is their own department. They’re not part of the health and fitness department. Johnson Wellness does exercise equipment and things like that. Now the massage chairs are their own entity within Johnson Health Tech. And that’s the main difference in their business model.

 

[00:10:45]

But also, and I’ve said to you this before, they purchased the Fuji Medical factory in Japan. So, they actually bought a factory. And that factory was the home of the Fujiiryoki name brand. The Fujiiryoki brand had models called Cyber Relax. They were sold by a different distributor at the time who sold their chairs and his chairs. But that relationship was severed by Fujiiryoki. And now, Johnson wellness tech owns Fuji Medical and owns the whole chain, from factory to development, to build to distribution. And so, now it’s all in-house, if you will.

 

[00:11:39]

Anyway, I saw that when we were at CES in January, they had their booth and it was Synca and Fujiiryoki. And so, I met with Nicholas and I said, what’s going on with the Fujiiryoki? He says, “Well, we’ve taken that name over now from Fuji Medical, and we’re going to be bringing new models into the market.” And I mentioned that in a previous district industry update too, that they’re going to have three new models, Japanese-made models, and some other Synca wellness models. Well, this is what I learned when I was there. It was fantastic to be there. It was like I walked into a new world of massage chairs.

 

[00:12:18]

Anyway, one of the lines that they’re going to start carrying is the D.Core chairs. Now, you might be familiar with D.Core because we used to carry D.Core. I really liked that chair. The D.Core Cirrus was one of my favorite chairs. It had a much more modern furniture look. It had wood accents on the armrests, the side panels, and the back panel. However, we lost the right to distribute those chairs because Furniture for Life was the US distributor for those chairs. And so, when Furniture for Life changed their business model to sell only through their own stores, we were cut off. And I don’t say that begrudgingly at all, because I know the owner of Furniture for Life, he’s a great guy and a good friend.

 

[00:13:06]

So, he didn’t have to deal with the competition of non-Furniture for Life stores, he basically got rid of the non-Furniture for Life stores. So, Furniture for Life kind of had a monopoly on their own chairs. And they have every right to do that. It’s their chair, they brought them in there, the distributors, they can have whoever they want to sell them. No, D.Core is the brainchild of Soschu Inada, who is the son of the Inada massage chair empire. He started his own line of chairs, and it’s the D.Core chairs. And they were made in China. They’re designed and engineered in Japan, but they’re built in China. And now, the D.Core has a new model called the D.Core II, which is what was at Nicholas’s showroom in Southern California.

 

[00:13:56]

And that chair is made in Japan. 100% made in Japan. One of the differences that I noticed on it was it has oak side panels instead of maple or walnut, which was a darker color. This is a lighter oak color. Very nice look. It has elbow airbags that massage this part of the arm. It has Bluetooth speakers which the old D.Core Cirrus and Stratus didn’t have. It still has the arm rollers, calf rollers, foot rollers, and all the rest of it. It felt like the massage was a little more comfortable if you will. And when I say comfortable, it was still strong and intense, but the seating, when you sat in the chair, it felt a little more cushy, a little more just more comfortable.

 

[00:14:39]

And it has quick keys, a little thing of quickies, a little dial that’s on the left armrest that you can adjust some of the basic functions of the chair. And you’re aware of quick keys. I’ve talked to you about them before. They’re on the armrests, so you don’t have to always use the remote control. Anyway, the D.Core II was there. So, we’re going to be selling the D.Core II shortly. We’ll have it on our website. I think we’re going to bring it back to our showrooms because it was a popular chair. They’re still working on pricing, but they’re expecting the price of the Japanese-made D.Core to be 14,999.

 

[00:15:13]

Now you can still get the old D.Core Cirrus and the D.Core Stratus made in China, and I think they’re also going to have a Japanese-made version of each of those. So, they’re coming out with this whole family of D.Core chairs that we now have access to. Of course, we’re not going to carry all of them in our showroom. We’ll carry one because the basic massage function is the same. What’s different is some of the features and where it’s built. And of course, the Japanese build is a big deal because the Japanese build and testing is where the Japanese excel. The testing of the product is going to be all in Japan now, which is fantastic, of course, as we’ve talked about before as well.

 

 

[00:15:50]

It’s not so cut and dried as to where a chair is made. It’s not 100% made in Japan, just like the Luraco is not 100% made in America and the Chinese chairs are not 100% made in China. Components come from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and whatnot. So, there are other components that make up the chair. They’re not all purebred Japanese Chinese or American chairs. Having said that, I feel very happy about the idea that the D.Core II is being made in Japan, and the price of that one will be 14,999. And I’ve got to tell you more. It was that was quite a visit.

 

[00:16:31]

Anyway, the D.Core II, we’ll get more about that as we start to see those chairs coming into America through Synca or Fujiiryoki. It’s going to be coming through Fujiiryoki. They also have a new chair. It’s a split track. I had to actually take notes when I was there. It’s going to be a Fujiiryoki brand, but they’re going to call it Cyber Relax something, some variant of the Cyber Relax like the Cyber Relax A or Cyber Relax B. But that is a chair that is made in China but it is going to be under the Fujiiryoki brand. And that chair again, we’re not exactly sure the pricing, 8,500, 8,600. They’re still negotiating all the pricing and all the costs and all that stuff for them to bring them into the United States.

 

[00:17:27]

And that chair has 80 airbags, split track, and 40 kneading neck airbags. So it has these airbags that rub your neck if that’s what you want. And it has a calf and foot roller. So, it’s similar to other speed me that we have, but it’s another offering, another option for buyers. And they’re coming out with the Fujiiryoki JP 4000, which will be the successor to the Synca 3000. And they have a chair right now called Inner Balance Jin II. It’s a chair we’ve never carried because it was a 2D chair, and I didn’t want to bring a 2D chair in, even though Nicholas told me that they sold very well in brick-and-mortar stores. And it’s a lower-priced chair. That chair was, I think, 3,299.

 

[00:18:19]

They were going to bring in a 3D chair. It’s going to be like a Jin II, but it’s going to be called the Fujiiryoki Calm Plus. And that chair is going to be 3,699. This is a 3D chair with full features like an L track and foot rollers. And I believe they have what they call a flex track on it. It’s not a split track, it’s a flex track. So, if you have a heavier body, the track will give a little bit so it’s not digging in super intense. And so, I’m interested to see how that works. I’ve not seen it before. And it’ll have a full-color touch panel. But that is another chair that’s going to be under the Fujiiryoki name.

[00:19:00]

And so, that right there is the D.Core line, the Fujiiryoki Cyber Relax (the one I told you about, the split track), the Fujiiryoki JP 4000, and then the Fujiiryoki Calm Plus. And of course, maybe the names will change and maybe the pricing will change as we get closer to releasing it. But they’re all coming to market this year. It’s like an avalanche of chairs. Also, they have another one coming from Japan. That was the one I wanted to see because he explained it to me when we were at the CES. That’s the one I want to see but he didn’t have that one, he still wasn’t at liberty to. Well, not at liberty. He just didn’t want to tell me too much because they don’t have it yet so he doesn’t know everything about it yet either.

 

[00:19:45]

But here’s the thing. Our next Massage Chair Relief Live, which is our live stream where we invite principals of massage chair companies and other people in the industry to come and you know, chat about massage chairs, he’s our next guest. We had to wait to schedule the live stream until I went there last week to meet with him and talk with him and make sure we got the go-ahead to do the live stream. And it will be this Wednesday at 2:00 pm Mountain time, 4:00 Eastern, 3:00 Central, and 1:00 Pacific time. So, that’s a company that’s got a lot of things going on. A lot of interesting stuff.

 

[00:20:27]

And Nicholas is like this wealth of information. He knows his stuff. He’s a good guy to talk with. He. And he’d be happy to answer questions. And if you have comments, whatever, I’d like to invite you to come to that. And, of course, if you have questions, bring them along with you. But anyway, that’s this Wednesday. And by the way, another thing you can watch that live stream on our YouTube channel, which is YouTube.com/massage chair relief. Or you can go to our Facebook page which is facebook.com/massage.chair.relief. You can see it on our Twitter, which is now x.com/massagechairs. And we finally have our homepage banner up with a spot for playing videos like our live stream.

 

[00:21:14]

If you go there to massagechairrelief.com now, you’ll see the homepage banner, which is a picture of me welcoming you to the website with clicks to new chair sales and pre-owned sales. The right third of that banner is now dedicated primarily to the live stream, which we do once a month. And so, we’ll have Nicholas there on Wednesday, and you can watch it live on our website too. You just can’t offer comments or questions, but you can certainly listen to it and check it out. So, you can watch it in those four different locations. And speaking of the Massage Chair Relief live stream, in April, we’re planning on having Michael Kogure, the president of Daiwa. And I’m excited to have him on as well. He’s.

 

[00:22:06]

Japanese. He’ll probably have some other people on it with him to express some of the things that he wants to say because his primary language is Japanese, and English is a second language. And it’s good. I understand when he talks, but if he wants to talk about details or specifics or whatever, I think he’ll have someone on there to help relay that information to us in more fluent English. But I’m very excited to have Michael there. I’m excited to have Nicholas. We’ve got plans for May and June as well, but I haven’t firmed those ones up yet.

 

[00:22:44]

Anyway, I want you to join me and watch and bring questions and bring comments or anything. Nicholas is a great resource for not just his chairs, but the market. He knows what’s going on in the market. He’s got a lot of knowledge. I really enjoy working with him. As far as sales go, Ogawa usually has monthly sales for all their chairs, and Svago, which is their zero-gravity recliner department or section of their company. JP Medics doesn’t usually have sales. Now, JP Medics, Svago, Ogawa, Cozzia, and Brookstone, are all the same company, but they’re all run separately.

 

[00:23:32]

And JP Medics rarely has sales. That’s the chair that’s built in China by Ogawa but exported to Japan, where it’s assembled, tested, and programmed, kind of like the Ocho chairs are. Anyway, they have a sale right now where if you buy the JP Medics Kaze, which is the upgrade to the Kumo, you get a free Nami, which is a body vibrator, the kind you stand on. It’s got a little podium that you stand on, you hold on the handle and it vibrates everything. It’s supposed to be good for relaxing. They say it’s good for weight loss. It’s a $3,000 free bonus.  That’s a great deal.

 

[00:24:15]

So, if you’re looking for something to motivate you to want to get a chair, take a look at the Kaze. I think we have one in a couple of our showrooms, so you can try it there, too. Anyway, I thought I would tell you about that. And then, a couple of other things. We had a customer named Rusty McKee. Great guy. And he just reached out to us and said “Dey, Doctor Weidner.” He bought the True Eclipse chair, which is a new line of chairs that we started carrying about two years ago. Anyway, he bought that chair and he sent a letter to me, to Sean, who’s my manager that sold him the chair, I believe, and to Christy Kim, who is the president or the owner of True Massage Chairs.

 

[00:25:01]

She was on our livestream two months ago, so you can go back onto our YouTube channel and go to that playlist and you can listen to her talk. That was a very good interview as well. And this customer, Rusty, sent a letter to all four of us telling us about how much he loved the chair and how it hit all the spots he wanted. But his old chair was the INADA Dreamwave. And for those of you who don’t know, the INADA Dreamwave has long been discontinued. It was a Japanese-designed, engineered, and partly built chair.

 

[00:25:36]

A lot of massage chairs have airbags on the thighs and they inflate and push against your thighs. But the principal use, the purpose of those is to hold your hips down and in place, so when the rollers go over you it doesn’t push your body forward and it maintains the intensity of the roller massage on your back. The same thing that the shoulder airbags do. Shoulder airbags, for the most part, their purpose is to hold you in place so when the rollers go up and down your back, your body’s not going forward in waves with the rollers.

 

[00:26:10]

And that was one of the revolutionary things about the INADA Dreamwave. When it came out, it changed the whole market. It was such an innovative chair. One of the things that made it really cool was it had these hip airbags that weren’t flat balloons, like a lot of them are now just to hold the hips in place. They had airbags that were quite specific and they dug into the iliotibial bands, which are the sides of your thighs. It’s a strip of tissue that goes from your hips down to the outside of your knee. And it’s a thin strip. It’s a ligamentous strip, but it can cause a lot of pain, especially for people who are cyclists and runners.

 

[00:26:49]

For the everyday guy like myself, I’m not a runner or a cyclist, I play hockey, but not enough to say that I strain my muscles, overdo my muscles, or overload my muscle work. But when that worked on my iliotibial bands, it was sore, I could feel it. It’s tender. And so, there’s not many chairs that do that. And he loved that feature on his old Dreamwave, but he was getting rid of the Dreamwave because it was over ten years old and it was time to move on to another model. So what he did was, (and this is such a great idea and I’m giving this to you so you can use this if you have iliotibial band problems or if you want to do this with your massage chair), he bought a foam roll.

 

[00:27:31]

I think it was a five-inch diameter roll. And he cut it into a six-inch length. He just bought it off Amazon I think because he got one and sent it to us and we have it at our Arizona store. So, he cut a six-inch length of that and then he cut it in half. So, it’s two semis. It’s not a sphere. It’s a half-sphere. I don’t even know what you call that in math or physics. So, it was flat on one side and the rounded part on the other. It was like, okay, so take this water bottle. It was like half the water bottle, so it’s flat in the middle and rounded on the top. And he puts that between his thigh and the hip airbags.

 

[00:28:11]

And you can really only do this if you have hip airbags in your chair. Some chairs don’t have hip airbags. Anyway, when the airbags inflate, now what they do is push that roller into your iliotibial bands on the side of your thigh. You can do the flat side, or you can turn it over and use the rounded side if you want a little bit more intense. And you can move that thing up and down your thigh to work that ligamentous iliotibial band. It’s just a fantastic idea, so simple. And it costs cents on the dollar.

 

[00:28:43]

I don’t know what the cost of that roller was, but he said it was very cheap. And he was kind enough to give us one. But this is something that you might want to do if you want iliotibial band stuff. If you’re not a cyclist or a runner, don’t worry about it. You can have someone dig their knuckle or their elbow into the side of your thigh you’ll know. It won’t take much pressure. You’ll know if that is hypertonic or excessively [unintelligible 00:29:09] spastic. And then try this roller thing. It is wonderful. And it reminds me of the old INADA Dreamwave. And that’s why he did it because it reminded him of it. And it does. It’s exactly what it is.

 

[00:29:23]

Well, it’s not an airbag, but it’s facilitated by the airbags pushing this foam roller into your thigh. Great idea. Anyway, take it and run with it. I strongly recommend it. Well, I was going to talk a little something about fitting in a massage chair, but we can maybe save that for next week. But I hope you found this video helpful. If you did, please feel free to thumbs up like us on our YouTube channel. And of course, help us spread the word about massage chairs by sharing this video or any of our videos with your friends and family through your social media platforms.

 

[00:29:50]

I need to mention this, I sell almost all the chairs I talk about. So we do sell chairs too. I’m not just a massage chair encyclopedia for you or a tip giver. We do sell these chairs too. We’d love to earn your business as well. But I think that’s about it for this week. If you want to get a hold of us, you can reach us at 888-25- 5380. Someone will answer the phone for you and answer your questions for you, whatever those might be. Anyway, I’m Doctor Alan Weidner from Massage Chair Relief, and I will see you again on the next video. Bye-bye.


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