Hit Habit Forecast: Home sauna highs

Sep. 8, 2020
  • Viewpoints

Hit Habit Forecast is a regular column of the Hit Habit Makers, a group of young planners at Hakuhodo HQ that gamely stood up to say they were going to create hit habits—not hit products—as consumption shifts from purchasing things to purchasing experiences. Analyzing social media accounts and purchasing data of highly sophisticated users and conducting analysis on popular articles, etc. in a variety of media that have their fingers on the pulse of social trends: this is the bold, new challenge of forecasting hit habits that are about to break.


Hello. I’m Yuki Kusuda of the Hit Habit Makers.

When the weather gets cooler, I want to go to a hot spring, public bath or sauna. How about you? I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you have been unable to go to public baths and saunas as you normally would this year due to worries about maintaining social distancing, but it seems that those who love saunas and baths are using various tips and tricks to enjoy them at home.

In this edition, I’d like to discuss what sauna and bath lovers are doing at home. To write this forecast, I researched various things, and apparently the “sauna high” that sauna-goers often talk about can be achieved at home, so I’d like to introduce the “home sauna high” habit.

First, I looked up “Ofuro” (baths) on Google Trends. It seems that although the trend goes up and down, bathing has been drawing attention the last few years. Looking at the results by season, the peak of interest comes in January each year. It seems I’m not alone in wanting to have a bath when the weather gets chilly; you all do, too.

Source: Google Trends (Search for “Ofuro” (baths))


I’ll get to home sauna highs in just a minute, but first, let me just explain what a sauna high is. Medically, it is the strange sensation that occurs when the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve systems, which normally act in turn, act together. That’s a bit hard to understand, but it apparently involves becoming deeply relaxed, with heightened senses and a clear mind. It’s very much like the state you enter after meditating. Okay, after all that preamble, I’d like to explain briefly what people are doing to get sauna highs at home.

Firstly, generally, to get the high, people repeatedly go through a cycle of sauna→cold bath→air bath, and I found some people who are using this method even at home. Most people don’t have a sauna and cold bath at home, though, so what they’re actually doing is warming themselves in the bathtub, having a cold shower, resting in the bathroom, then repeating. It seems they call this kōgo-yoku (alternating bathing). They say that repeating this promotes sweating, improves circulation, and induces a super relaxed state. This practice also reduces stress, apparently. Delving further, I found that some people fill a children’s paddle pool with water for their cold bath instead of having a cold shower. They were using imaginative ways to realize home sauna highs, and it made me want to give it a go myself.

Next, bath salts. At a public bath or hot spring, you’re not able to use your favorite bath additive. But you can at home, right? People are apparently enjoying the advantages of home sauna highs by, for instance, changing the bath salts they use depending on their mood that day. Some even said they prefer doing it at home because it offers such enjoyments. Also, zeroing in on this, I found that there are even bath salt manufacturers that offer different scented salts on a subscriber model, which would indicate that the bath salt market could get bigger going forward. I also found people who are making their own bath salts. They are using various tricks to create bath salts, such as using baking soda and the like, perfuming them to their own tastes, and making petals appear from inside to delight the eyes. And most importantly, the positive effects of the bath salts. The salts promote better circulation than a regular bath, which makes them perfect for getting a sauna high at home. Learning all this, I thought a home sauna high didn’t sound bad at all; actually, being able to personalize the experience sounded fun.

And finally, the people who were like, if I can’t go to the sauna, why don’t I build my own. In what I think is a contender for and possibly the final form of home sauna high, I came across someone who has built a single-person sauna in their garden, and recently, I noticed there is such a thing as a tent sauna, so it’s possible to get the home sauna high without spending too much. (Of course, the power bills and maintenance expenses are likely to not be insignificant.) An acquaintance of mine installed a sauna in the garden of their home by the sea, and is apparently really living the life. Now that teleworking has become the norm, if it becomes easier to set up environments that let us work away from the big cities, it’s possible more people will choose to live in a regional area and build themselves a sauna.

Now let’s consider why the home sauna high has become a thing.

I think the main case is increasing demand for stress relief. As we need to deal with lots of information every day and it’s getting more difficult to switch from work time to private time due to teleworking, etc., people are looking to de-stress somehow. At such times, the bath is actually a place where we can be alone, and by spending more time in there than when just having a shower, people are able to relax and refresh themselves. I think that this habit is spreading because people are happy to be able to recreate what they experienced at a hot spring or public bath until now.

Also, using various tricks to experience sauna highs how they like them gives people something to look forward to every day, and I get the sense that people are using this to make their lives richer. Why don’t you explore your own style of home sauna high?

Examples of home sauna high business opportunities
■ Beverage manufacturers provide soft drinks and alcoholic beverages specifically for after a home sauna high.
■ Florists sell flower and bath salt kits, providing subscription services that allow anyone to easily make and enjoy their own bath salts using fresh flowers.
■ Homebuilders provide baths for home sauna highs, creating small bathtubs beside the baths especially for cold baths.
And so on.

As the weather gets steadily cooler, the season where we want to enjoy baths even more than usual arrives. I look forward to hearing how you all use fresh thinking to add home sauna highs to your lives. I think I’ll have a sauna high for the first time in a while tonight, too. I look forward to a nice long bath.


Yuki Kusuda
Member of the Hit Habit Makers
Integrated Planning & Creative Department, Market Design Business Development Division
Kansai Office
Yuki Kusuda joined Hakuhodo in 2011. He has been in marketing roles ever since, working on client and social challenges. A TV addict who loves TV dramas and his Hanshin Tigers baseball team above all else, how he feels from day to day is affected by how his beloved team fared the day before.
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