Why Are Office Chairs So Expensive?

Interested in why office chairs are so expensive? In this article, I will go over the following main points:

  • Manufacturing and Materials
  • Research and Development
  • Brand Prestige

Let’s get started!

Why Are Office Chairs So Expensive

How Do Manufacturing And Materials Drive-Up Office Chair Prices?

Office chairs are built first and foremost with ergonomics in mind, but what is ergonomics? In the context of office chairs, ergonomics refers to how well their design complements the human body.

To phrase it in an even more familiar way, it’s about looking at how comfortable the office chairs are for people to sit in for long periods.

1. Adjustability:

Everyone’s body is sized and shaped differently, which means that office chairs need to be made in such a way that they can be adjusted by the user to fit their exact dimensions.

This in turn means that elements from pneumatic cylinders to headrests and everything between and beyond needs to be movable to achieve this perfect alignment for each person.

The more elements an office chair has that are customizable, and the more directions each of these elements can be adjusted toward, the more moving parts the chair will have and the more complex they will be.

What this means from a manufacturing perspective is a higher volume of produced elements per chair, more finely milled elements as they become more complex and precise, and a longer assembly time.

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2. Mechanism:

The mechanisms need to be high quality because if, for example, the teeth in the gears wear out, the affected mechanism will become unusable.

So, the chair will lose its overall customizability, losing its status as an ergonomic office chair in the process.

3. Material:

The materials for the non-mechanical elements are also important.

Low quality or insufficient padding can greatly decrease the level of comfort the chair provides to a seated user.

Cheaper cloth and poor stitching can also lead to the chair coming apart and needing to be replaced long before its time.

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How Does Research And Development Affect Office Chair Prices?

When most people think of research and development departments, they imagine companies building high-tech electronics, rockets, or pharmaceuticals.

It seems almost funny for research and development to be going into manufacturing chairs, but office chairs are as much about the ergonomics as they are about the production.

Ergonomics is as much a science as it is an art, and like every science, needs steady research.

On a physical level, the biomechanics of the human body makes up the core of the research.

The manufacturers of ergonomic office chairs need to understand how bodies move, how joints bend, and where the main pressure points will be across different designs.

A reclining mechanism, for instance, that fails to understand how a human body moves may cause the entire chair to topple over when used.

Existing academic studies are a good starting point, but because the companies are manufacturing new products, the research cannot possibly be done without a lot of prototypes and an even greater number of human subjects.

Problem1 : Human Subjects:

Human subjects should represent a diverse range of body types, shapes, and sizes to ensure that the products really can be customizable as needed by any user.

Problem2: Biomechanics:

The research isn’t limited to the dimensions of human bodies. Biomechanics is only one part of posture.

Problem3: Behavioral:

An equally important part is the behavioral element. People don’t just sit down in one position and then not move for the entire duration of their shifts.

Sitting is a surprisingly dynamic activity, and this needs to be both fully understood and extensively tested in the development of ergonomic office chairs.

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How Important Is Brand Prestige To The Price Of Office Chairs?

We all know that a product from a well-known brand will command a higher price, but a lot of people don’t fully understand why.

Brand prestige should not be confused with simple brand recognition.

In the case of a high-quality ergonomic office chair from a renowned brand, you’re not simply paying for the name, but also for a lot of the more subtle quality that comes with it.

Why Are Office Chairs So Expensive

1. Production Standards:

A long-established company will have a reputation to uphold, and one of how this is done is by maintaining consistent production standards.

Where newer or smaller companies may switch contracts with their parts manufacturers, a lot of renowned brands will manufacture their parts in-house

That ensures consistency across products. You will truly know what to expect when you buy from such a brand.

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2. Research And Development: 

Companies with a very long history will also have an equally long track record of research and development, having built up on decades’ worth of research.

Brands like this will be constantly refining their designs for better and better chairs, giving them a massive head start over their competitors who may only just be starting with their first design. Experience goes a long way.

3. Warranties:

Finally, brand prestige tends to be associated with generous warranties.

These companies know that they produce the best quality, and they’re often willing to back it up by offering full refunds or replacements if something goes wrong. 

A hefty price tag seems less difficult to swallow when you know that it also means you won’t have to pay again for a replacement for at least a decade.

For an example of the kind of work and thought that goes into an expensive ergonomic office chair, check out this video reviewing a classic in office furniture, the Aeron chair by Herman Miller.

Final Thoughts On The Price Of Office Chairs

For a lot of people asking why are office chairs so expensive, it’s easy to look at them and just see simple furniture.

But we’ve learned today that a lot of thought and work goes into them, including complex manufacturing, high-quality materials, extensive research, and development.

And the kinds of subtle extras associated with a premium brand, such as a warranty policy that benefits both manufacturer and customer.

Last update on 2022-06-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!
Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

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