Archive for June, 2011

Massage market targets the next generation

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Panasonic's Neck Refre

The massage market is getting trendier and appealing increasingly to a younger market. In April 2011, according to Nikkei Trendy, sales of Atex’s Rurundo Massage Cushion have exceeded 2 million. The product, a stylish throw pillow that has a rotating nub inside to massage the back, wouldn’t look out of place in the apartment of a young professional.

Panasonic is also targeting a younger market with their massage products. Its Neck Refure device, for example, is aimed at young women. According to Panasonic, their market research revealed that women in their 20s are the demographic that most wants to own a massage chair. This overturns the conventional wisdom that massage products appeal primarily to a 50-plus market.

While in general younger buyers  suffer from fewer aches and pains than older consumers, they tend to want products that can ease stiffness in the neck and shoulders. They also seem to favor compact products with simple functionality. Panasonic’s Neck Refure ticks all these boxes. Aimed at loosening stiffness in the neck, users simply wear the device wrapped around their neck. Resembling some kind of futuristic interface between man and machine, the device’s actual function is to emit low frequency waves that are purported to loosen stiffness. Though the product comes in a range of female-friendly shades (silver, lime green and pink), it’s proven to be just as popular with the men.

Many new massage devices target the female market. A quick search for new massage products online brought up the Power Shake and Estenad Sonic MOMO, both aimed at young women. Publicity shots for the Power Shake show a woman in lingerie using the product to relieve tension in her shoulder and thigh. (Though it’s not explicitly stated, we’re guessing the black rubber product is intended to reduce tension in more private areas of the anatomy too.) Estenad Sonic MOMO Ultrasonic also aims to bring a glow to the faces of women. The device oscillates at 5MHz, massaging the skin on the face to stimulate a rosy-cheeked fresh complexion.

Japan, you look like you could use a long vacation

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

KNT is offering holidays of up to 22 days

The buzzword for this summer among  travel agents is ロングバケーション (long vacation). KNT, ANA airlines and JTB have all recently launched campaigns to encourage Japanese to take longer holidays than normal. Facing a long hot summer of possible power shortages, it’s likely that many customers might take the bait.

While JTB is offering long vacation package holidays for up to 15 days, KNT travel has trumped them with a selection of holidays of up to 22 days. All locations offered are overseas, allowing stressed-out Japanese to put a bit of distance between themselves and the ailing Fukushima nuclear reactor.

If the concept of long holidays does appeal to Japanese, it remains to be seen which locations will be popular. Both relaxing beach vacations in locations like Hawaii, Bali and Guam are being offered alongside trips to cooler climates. To appeal to those desperate to escape the heat, KNT has also launched a range of クールバカンス (cool vacations) and locations include Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Japanese summertime is wintertime for southern hemisphere climates, so it’s even possible to go snowboarding in New Zealand.

For those who want to stay in Japan, ANA is offering packages holidays to Hokkaido, Kyushu and Okinawa for up to 14 days from June 1. Hokkaido’s summers are nice and cool whereas Kyushu and Okinawa offer many beautiful locations suited to beach bums. Despite the heat down south, power saving strictures will not apply, so you won’t be made to feel guilty for turning on the aircon in your hotel room.

Typically, it’s rather hard for Japanese workers to get their bosses to agree to long vacations. This season, however, might be different, according to Kyodo News, Toshiba has just announced that it is introducing two-three week summer holidays for employees so it can cut production and meet government power saving goals. Rather than facing opposition from their boss, employees, at least those working in industries that are looking to meet power saving targets, might be actively encouraged to embrace the incipient long vacation trend.


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