Is The Japanese-Made Inada Sogno Worth The Higher Price?

September 6, 2012
 By Dr. Alan Weidner
September 6, 2012
 By Dr. Alan Weidner

Is The Japanese-Made Inada Sogno Worth The Higher Price?

This issue comes up all the time as I speak to hundreds of massage chair shoppers. Pretty much everyone who calls knows about the Inada Sogno Dreamwave massage chair and in their heart of hearts want one, but many of these shoppers are looking for something much less expensive.

With so many Chinese-made Sogno look-a-likes in the market now (i.e. Osaki OS-4000, Osaki OS-6000, IT-8200, IT-8500, Omega Montage Pro, among others) that are less than half the price of the Sogno, the question arises as to whether the Sogno is really more than twice the chair in features and quality as it is in price.

Today’s blog post addresses this issue since it is so commonly asked.

There are two main reasons why the Japanese-made chairs are more expensive than the Chinese-made look-a-likes:

1.  The cost of living in Japan is higher than in China. With increased cost of living comes increased cost of manufacturing. This is something that has been a hot political and economical button in the USA and why so many American companies outsource their manufacturing internationally.  It is purely an economical, money-saving issue to keep the manufacturing costs and retail prices of their products down. Japan just has higher costs of manufacturing and that is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher retail prices.

2. The Japanese Yen has been gaining strength while the US Dollar has been losing it’s value. This has been manifest in each of the 4 years that the Inada Sogno chair has been in the US market in the form of increased wholesale and retail prices. Amazingly, though, the popularity and # of sales of the Sogno have continued to climb despite the almost 25% increase in price over the last 4 years.

So, along come these Chinese-made imitations of the Sogno…and they are showing up in droves! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so I’ve heard, so it is logical that a chair as successful and revolutionary as the Inada Sogno will be copied to some degree.

I might mention that not one of the look-a-likes that I’ve experienced has exactly replicated the Inada Sogno feature-set or the general feel and nuance of the chair. But, they are giving it a good shot. I am seeing a big uptick in the sales of chairs like the OS-6000 and IT-8200, which are clearly imitations of the Sogno design and massage.

Inada Sogno

So, why does the Inada Sogno continue to outsell the Chinese models? Are people nuts to spend the nearly $8000 on an Inada Sogno when they could get an IT-8200 for $3195? I don’t think so and I’m going to explain why the Inada Sogno just might be worth it:

1. Mr. Inada invented the first massage chair in 1962 and he has been creating his own since that time. All the Inada chairs are designed, engineered, manufactured, and distributed by Inada. They have complete quality control over the whole process. They have stood the test of time and are considered among the very best, if not the best, massage chairs in the world.

The Chinese-made chairs are manufactured en masse and white labeled for whatever company comes looking for a massage chair to distribute. So, an Osaki chair and and Infinity chair and an Omega chair might all come from the same manufacturing plant but with subtle tweaks to differentiate them from one another and with their own company label pasted to each chair. These companies just buy what’s available but have no real control over the quality of the workmanship.

2. I have most of these chairs in my showroom and the vast majority of people migrate over to the Sogno because of it’s quality of massage. It truly is like comparing an expensive, high quality car, like the Mercedes Benz, to a decent lower priced alternative. The cars both get you from point A to point B, but the Mercedes just has an all around better driver experience with a lot fewer breakdowns. We have used terms like “more discriminating”, “more refined”, and “more nuanced” to describe the massage of the Inada Sogno to the cheaper cost alternatives.

3. The warranty of the Inada chair is a 3 year parts and labor, in-home warranty. The look-a-likes are all pretty much 1 year parts and labor, in-home with a 2nd year of parts and a 3rd year of structure coverage.

4. I can tell you from personal experience that I get many, many more calls from customers reporting a breakdown of their chair in their Chinese-made chair than a breakdown with their Sogno.

5. Inada ONLY manufactures massage chairs. That has been their focus from Day 1 and they’ve not diluted their products with non-massage chair related products. They were the first, they are the best made, and they are ONLY massage chair people.

The look-a-likes are perfect for folks who simply can’t afford and $8000 chair, but the long and short of it all is that you truly do get what you pay for, which doesn’t mean that the Chinese chairs are bad at all. It just means that they are not Inada. As Cliff Levin, President of InadaUSA puts it, “Of course, only an Inada feels like and does what an Inada can.”

Our experience has been that once you get your chair into your home or business, whether it is a Sogno or a look-a-like, you will love your chair and will not look back. There may be more chair breakdown issues with a lesser brand, but aside from that inconvenience, which can happen to any chair, you will absolutely love having a therapeutic massage chair available to you 24/7.

Dr. Alan Weidner

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