In Japan, one of the most advanced aging societies in the world, there is a growing demand for mobile hairdressing services for those who have difficulties visiting salons, but few businesses are equipped to offer these mobile services. Recruit is promoting mobile hairdressing services so that elderly people, people with illnesses, and caregivers with small children can enjoy suite services in the comfort of their own homes or a hospital or nursing home. We spoke with Minako Hattori, who is working to promote mobile hairdressing services in Japan at Recruit's Hot Pepper Beauty Academy.
Mobile Hairdressing Services Offer Great Value and Potential
When speaking of mobile hairdressing services, many people may think of hairdressers visiting elderly people in nursing homes. Although stylists offering home visits would also be convenient, it is unlikely that many people have used mobile hairdressing services in this way.
This is because the current Japanese law stipulates that beauty treatments, which include haircutting, setting, coloring, and perms, must be done by nationally-certified stylists at registered beauty salons. This law allows exceptions only in cases where it is difficult to visit a salon, including for those who have difficulty leaving their home. In addition to those who have difficulty due to old age, illness, or the need for nursing care, deregulation in 2016 also made it possible for caregivers to take advantage of this opportunity.
Currently, mobile hairdressing is not a service that everyone can use. However, with an aging Japanese population, demand for mobile hairdressing is expected to continue increasing in the future. In addition, since the COVID-19 pandemic, more mothers with small children are turning to mobile hairdressers.
Despite these increasing demands, due to the aforementioned regulation, mobile hairdressing is still not common. Even Minako, who previously worked as a salon hair stylist, did not have a concrete image of how mobile hairdressing works before starting this initiative. In order to understand the difference between mobile hairdressing and services at a hair salon, Minako accompanied a mobile hairdresser to witness this valuable service firsthand.
“When we visited a nursing home, I was delighted to see how one of the resident’s eyes sparkled after receiving a haircut. This experience showed me that no matter what age you may be, your heart can be filled with joy by feeling yourself beautiful with something as simple as a haircut. It reaffirmed the power of beauty services and how they impact our lives. I was also impressed to hear a caregiver saying “The atmosphere here becomes cheerful when our mobile hairdresser arrives for our monthly visit.'' You can hear caregivers’ compliments like “You look good!” here and there, and the nursing home is filled with smiles. After seeing this for myself, I recognized the value of mobile hairdressing services.”
Expanding the Base of Businesses and Hairstylists Offering Mobile Hairdressing Services
At present, there are only a limited number of businesses and hairstylists who offer mobile services. It is clear that this limited number will be insufficient considering the size of the aging society in Japan.
In 2015, Recruit started efforts to promote mobile hairdressing services in Japan as part of its Hot Pepper Beauty Academy initiative, which mainly provides management know-how to beauty salons. The academy held seminar events and published a series of digital articles featuring case studies from all over Japan. Although many people attended the seminars, only a limited number of hair salons actually launched mobile hairdressing services. In 2018, Hot Pepper Beauty Academy started a smaller and more focused seminar that limits the number of participants to less than 30 while offering deeper support for launching mobile hairdressing services. While accompanying the seminar participants during sales, Minako noticed the barriers salon hairstylists typically face.
The biggest barrier is insufficient sales experience. At salons, hairdressers have a reliable customer base. However, to find their own clients for mobile services, they need to be proactive about reaching out to potential clients, including nursing home staff, care managers and individuals with special needs, while also proposing services and closing contracts by themselves. Some hairdressers cannot sell their services because they don’t know where to begin and others may struggle to close sales without the necessary knowledge and skills. “I saw many participants of the seminar failing to understand potential clients’ needs because they were too focused on proposing their services to listen to what clients needed," recalled Minako.
A psychological barrier that salon hairstylists tend to have also stands in the way. “I was surprised to see so many participants felt guilty about making sales calls or visiting potential clients. I know their services offer value for potential clients and the people around them," said Minako. She met many hairdressers who felt uncomfortable making sales.
However, Minako saw the hairdressers become more positive toward mobile hairdressing services once they learned how to overcome these barriers to sales communication. Minako and her team began searching for ways to share sales knowledge with as many hairdressers as possible. She began to reach out to hairstylists who wanted to try mobile services but were unsure of where to start and assisted them as much as possible to expand the base of mobile hairdressers in Hot Pepper Beauty Academy. Ultimately, the team chose to compile face-to-face content from their seminars into videos to share online.
During the production process, the biggest challenge was how to convey the content to a wider range of target audiences through video, which is not an interactive medium. As a solution, each video was edited to less than 10 minutes so that even busy hairdressers could watch in their spare time. The video series went live in the summer of 2022, and currently eight of its series are available. These videos feature topics including mobile hairdressing laws, the flow and talking points for sales, and mobile hairdressing challenges and how to prevent them. Many hairdressers have already watched, and we will continue to add more contents over time.
A series of videos about mobile hairdressing available as of December 2022
Envisioning a Future Where Everyone Can Access Mobile Hairdressing Services
Minako talks about the value and future of mobile hairdressing services: “Personally, I experienced the challenge of not being able to go to a beauty salon when my child was really small. Through that experience, I became more familiar with mobile hairdressing services. I would like to create a world where we can always find a mobile hairdressing service that best suits us for someday when we are unable to visit salons. As our population ages further, mobile hairdressing services have potential to help everyone live an active life. I think this sentiment also leads back to Recruit Group's vision "Follow your heart." I believe our initiative to promote mobile hairdressing services is the first step to realizing a wonderful world full of hope. I aim to continue contributing to the vitalization of the beauty industry through mobile hairdressing.”
HOT PEPPER Beauty Academy - Mobile Hairdressing Services (Japanese page)
Research & Academy Group, Beauty Division, Recruit Co., Ltd.
Minako, who originally was a hairstylist at a beauty salon, joined Recruit in 2008 to work as a staff member at the Beauty Division. In 2014, she was transferred to the preparatory office for the launch of the 'Hot Pepper Beauty Academy'. Since 2016, Minako has led mobile hairdressing services promotion initiatives. She is a working mother and balances her role with raising her two-year-old child.