Healthcare Appliance Committee of CHEAA initiated multiple communications with key players of massage chair industry during an industry exhibition in Shanghai from May 25 to May 28 2018 in a bid to get an overall picture of this industry.
This health-related industry has not been covered as an individual sector by either State Bureau of Statistics or General Administration of Customs in their data gathering work. According to CHEAA’s estimation, domestic output of massage chairs (including shared ones) ranged at some 2 million units in 2017, of which 60% went to exports. Domestic growth mainly came from shared massage chairs, a rising sector amid China’s trend of sharing economy which has clearly fueled the production and sales of massage chair industry in recent years.
Excluded in China’s compulsory certification catalogue, the product is subject only to national safety standards numbered after GB 4796 and national product performance standards numbered after GB/T when energy efficiency standards regarding it are currently in development. This leads to an influx of industry players (OEMs included) on mixed sizes and with various levels of capabilities, of which only dozens have sizable manufacturing sites, offering products at a wide price range from as low as 1000 RMB to a hefty 60,000 RMB.
Taking a market share of around 90% globally, China-made massage chairs develop fast in technology and innovation, but still fall behind technologically advanced countries such as Japan when it comes to core components.
Offering an experience at low cost, shared massage chairs play a positive role in consumer education and product expansion. But they also raise worries of some enterprises, as many shared products, branded as cost-effective, could not offer a great consumer experience, which might cause consumers to position this product as low-end. Besides, sanitary condition of shared products is also a concern of industry players.
Domestic massage chair market experiences little fluctuation in recent years. Some industry insiders believe that, the overall market size could have dipped slightly if it is not for the boost of sharing economy. In the long run, this health-related industry has great market potential to be tapped when Chinese consumers are more exposed to this products and have more income. For this reason, many export-oriented enterprises are looking at domestic market in recent years with increased efforts put in brand building, R&D and channel building with the aim of gaining an edge in future competition.
In conclusion, China’s massage chair industry could experience a market-driven reshuffle in years to come. At this point, industry exchanges and consumer education are needed to maintain an orderly market competition and advance industry progress.