I had a wonderful visit from Ed Cini, sales manager for the Panasonic Wellness Division, yesterday. We spent the better part of the day together discussing massage chairs (or course), learning about the Panasonic way of doing things, and their flagship chair, the Panasonic MA70 massage chair. Ed had an MA70 shipped to my showroom, where it now sits.
I played around with the chair a bit and really enjoyed it. I will be doing a preliminary review of it in the days to come. We will also be recording some videos, as I do quite regularly on YouTube.com/massagechairrelief, to visually demonstrate particular features about the chair.
Ed has been with Panasonic for about 20 years and certainly had a thorough understanding of how things work over there. One of the reasons I was so excited to meet Ed was because in the 6 years that we have been carrying Panasonic products, I have never actually met a representative of the company before. I have dealt with my Panasonic distributor through the years, but they are not literal employees of the company. Whenever I had an issue or question about a Panasonic chair, i.e. warranty concerns or model rumors, my distributor would always have to “get back to me” with the information. Obviously, they had a direct line of communication with Panasonic.
So, it was great to finally meet someone, with whom I have now developed a relationship with, who I can go to directly with questions and get direct answers. I have that kind of relationship with every other company I represent, but this one has been a long time in coming. I am thrilled to now be “connected.” This should help me as I strive to keep up on the industry, particularly as I try to figure out what is happening at Panasonic with regards to their massage chairs.
Some of the things Ed and I talked about yesterday included:
1. Which massage chair models are currently available and they are the Panasonic MA70, the EP30007, the Ep30005, the 1285, and the MA10. I carry all of these models except for the MA10. I have had the 30007 in our showroom for quite some time, but now have the MA70 for display and demonstration. I am quite happy about that. Most folks who are shopping for an upper end massage chair, like the Inada Sogno, often will ask me comparative questions about the MA70. Everything I’ve had to share with those customers in the past has been from literature or hearsay. Now, I can actually discuss the differences from experience.
By the way, I asked Ed if the 1285 was being discontinued, a rumor which I had heard and shared on a previous Massage Chair Industry Update video. He said absolutely not…that it is still being built and sold.
2. Clarifying the warranties for the different Panasonic models. The new 3 year parts and labor, 5 years parts limited warranty is for the MA70 and 30007/30005 chairs only. The other models carry the old 1 year parts and labor, 3 year parts limited warranty.
3. We discussed why the Chinese chairs are known to have higher failure rates than the Japanese-made chairs and why Panasonic has a much lower failure rate for it’s chairs, which are made in China too, relative to other OEM Chinese-made chairs. The main reason is that in China a fully automated factory is discouraged. The Chinese encourage new factories to use manual labor to build product so that more jobs are created for the Chinese people. Great idea for the Chinese people, not so great for consumers of their products.
Without automation, reproduce-ability and consistency is harder to come by, so the quality of each product built may vary from one chair to another. Also, with manual labor, there is employee turnover and retraining that must be dealt with….and with that comes some more inconsistency. I had never thought of these things before.
Why does Panasonic have a lower failure rate for it’s Chinese-built chairs? Because they design and engineer their products in house but have them tooled and built in China. The quality of the manufacturing process is controlled by Panasonic’s own people present in the factories. They watch over every step of the building process. Human Touch does much the same thing with their chairs. Inada designs, engineers, AND builds their chairs in Japan…they own the whole process.
Companies like Osaki, Infinite Therapeutics, Omega, and Cozzia go to existing factories and choose existing chair models, designs, and features that they like, trying to differentiate themselves from one another. Then they have the factory label each chair with their name and logo. They do not have as much control over the quality and workmanship. That is managed by the factory people, who are not employees of the importing companies. Does that make sense? ( I hope I explained it well enough.)
4. We talked about the Sanyo chairs, which were bought out by Panasonic. I wondered if they would re-introduce any of their models into the marketplace. Ed told me that although the chairs will not be resurrected, certain technologies and features MAY be integrated into future Panasonic models. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, may come of that.
We spoke of many other topics, but I figured these were the ones that would interest most folks. If I think of something else, I can either write it up in another blog post or talk about it in a Massage Chair Industry Update video.
Thanks, Ed, for a wonderful day! I look forward to educating the public about your new MA70!
Dr. Alan Weidner