Lots of things are always going on in the massage chair industry. That’s borne out in my biweekly Massage Chair Industry Update video series. I thought I’d share with you the top 5 surprises in the industry, based on my observation and experience in the day to day “goings-on” in this business.
Here are my top 5 surprises:
Luraco, a US company with deep ties to the defense sector, had previously created and distributed a massage chair for salons and spas. This year they decided to provide a model for the residential market. Thus was the thinking behind the new iRobotics 6S massage chair.
This chair is 60% manufactured in the Luraco facility in Dallas, Texas, while 40% of the chair’s parts are manufactured in the DoTast plant in mainland China. The chair is 100% assembled here in the USA. That made for a very interesting story line in our industry.
#2. Continued popularity of the Inada Sogno
This model hit the ground running back in 2008 when it was introduced to the US market at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show. It has been our top seller ever since and, at the current time, still is a top seller across the country. As a matter of fact, Inada USA reports that their August sales were 40% higher than the same time a year ago!
As I’ve written before on our blog, the Sogno presented so many therapeutic innovations that it really took the industry by storm. 3D rollers, IlioTibial Band massage, Dreamwave technology in the seat, full arm massage, body styling, neck traction and trapezia massage changed the way massage chairs are made. So many popular models today, i.e. Osaki OS-3D Pro Dreamer & OS-4000, iRobotics 6S, IT-8500, Omega Montage Pro, etc., are patterned after the award-winning design of the Sogno.
I have no idea what the life-cycle is of a massage chair, but the Sogno continues to amaze and defy.
#3. So many new Osaki models
Osaki has really made a splash over the last few months by introducing 6, yes 6, new models to the US market. First of all, they redesigned the OS-3000 and created the OS-3000 Chiro, which boasts a longer roller track (35″). Then came the OS-2000 Combo, a lower-priced chair for the smaller budget. Then they added mechanical foot rollers to the OS-7200H and created the OS-7200CR, which, by the way, also added a “dome” to the top of the chair to include speakers and give the chair nicer “lines.” Osaki then added 3D roller massage to the OS-7200CR and created the OS-3D Pro Dreamer. I wrote an earlier article going over the differences of these chairs in detail.
Just two weeks ago, Osaki added the OS-Pro Marquis and the OS-3D Pro Intelligent to their line-up. The Marquis is cut from the same cloth as the popular OS-7075R and adds a portable heating element which can be moved to any part of the body, including the front. The Intelligent boasts an arm massage “buried” in the arm rests and a retractable ottoman, lending to a look of a chair that could pass as a regular recliner and not as a massage chair.
#4. Popularity of mechanical foot rollers
This huge success of the Infinity IT-8500 massage chair can, in very large part, be attributed to the public’s demand for mechanical foot rollers. This feature is a relatively new thing in our industry and it has taken off like crazy. That is why Osaki introduced the OS-7200CR and OS-3D Pro Dreamer. That is one of the reasons why the new Infinity Iyashi has had huge pre-release interest. And that is why lots of other models are being passed over during the due diligence of the massage chair shopper…because they DON”T have mechanical foot rollers.
I love this feature. It is different, but most folks love having foot massages, so it only makes sense that massage chair companies would eventually integrate this feature into their chairs. I suspect that, before long, most companies will have at least one model with mechanical foot rollers as part of the feature-set.
#5. Longer roller tracks!!
I saw this one coming a few years ago when I sat on an Inada prototype at the Las Vegas Furniture Market. It was cool then, but Inada chose, at the time, not to introduce that prototype to the US market. Well, Infinite Therapeutics did and came up with their own model, the Iyashi. I think it’s fabulous. I have this chair in my showroom and have already made a bunch of videos about it, but it is the 49″ roller track that really separates this chair from the rest. You will experience a low back massage like never before.
Osaki introduced a slightly longer roller track a couple of months ago in their redesigned OS-3000 Chiro, but it is only 35″ long. Most chairs, prior to this time, had roller tracks as long as 31″ (Panasonic MA70, Osaki OS-7075R). 35″ was a good start, but the 49″ track of the Iyashi blows this whole thing up…all to the benefit of the customer.
Like the foot rollers, I suspect that over the next couple of years, more of the massage chair companies will come out with at least one model that has an extended roller track.
Well, there you have my top 5 surprises. If there is anything that you’ve seen in your research that surprised you about this industry, please share those thoughts in our comment section. I’m sure we’d all love to know.
Dr. Alan Weidner