Services & Business

One of Recruit's leading services supporting dining and beauty in Japan

Media rooted in the community that grew into one of the most beloved services in all of Japan

Recruit started off as an advertising agency for university newspapers that helped students find employment. In the years since we have continued to provide HR-related information media and matching services for those seeking jobs or looking to change careers. We have also followed this up with a wide range of fields connecting lifestyle or life events like marriage, childbirth, used cars, and housing, so we continue to be an essential business for people.

One of our most iconic brands is a service that is a spiritual successor to the advertising agency and media endeavors of our earliest days. This service is "Hot Pepper", a magazine that provides information on things like restaurants, salons, and schools in an area. Since its launch in 2000, Hot Pepper has been a free paper that comes with coupons (with an online version arriving later). Those who make use of the service receive special benefits like discounts, while businesses that advertise gain its support as a media for attracting customers. Hot Pepper went beyond being a mere information paper to pioneer a new genre of coupon info magazine.


We followed this up with two independent services, "" (now known as "Hot Pepper Gourmet"), which specializes in dining information, and "Hot Pepper Beauty", a source for info on hair salons, nails, eye beauty, relaxation, and esthetic clinics, in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Both allow users to conduct searches and make reservations via a coupon magazines and website.

One feature of coupon magazines is that they can be found everywhere from convenience stores to train stations, with Hot Pepper having a circulation of 2,728,000 copies* in 46 areas and 30 prefectures. It is pretty much impossible to find someone in Japan who hasn't heard of it. Hot Pepper Gourmet also ranks number one in Japan for online reservations (*according to a study by Tokyo Shoko Research), while Hot Pepper Beauty supports Recruit as the largest search and reservation website for hair, relaxation, and beauty salons in Japan.

* As of August 2016

Creating ideal rules of competition for the marketplace while vitalizing the city and region

Hot Pepper's predecessor was a free magazine called "Seikatsu Jouhou 360°" that was published in 1994. It was media that introduced all sorts of information specially tailored for each area like moving services, used car dealers, apartments, or travel agencies in different cities. Circumstances vary by region, though, so it wasn't easy to expand our overall results. "Hot Pepper" was the new endeavor we launched in 2000 with the goal of building upon this background and utilizing the knowledge we had acquired along the way to provide information for all of Japan, including areas we had yet to reach.

Since then we have offered search and reservation services along with advertising for mainly the dining and beauty marketplaces. It is imperative that we maximize satisfaction for our clients and customers, and as a result generate profit for ourselves. Something else we've been facing is the question of what sort of competitive rules are best for the marketplace. People's consumption behavior is like casting a vote for more appealing businesses to stick around. If this system functions properly then good businesses will attract customers and there will be more shops that people like, with the end result being a healthy city that is full of energy.

Hot Pepper's continued popularity for over 15 years is largely due to the payoff of our ideas, creativity, and various approaches towards our services. But, I think the fact that we were acting out of a desire to increase the livelihood of the cities and regions themselves also played a big part in it.

Masanori Michimoto
Beauty Domain Leader
Recruit Lifestyle Co., Ltd.

A continual source of new ideas for dining info in Japan that expanded into the beauty market to bring even more livelihood to communities

Hot Pepper started in 2000, and for the first years of publication we devoted the majority of our efforts to undertaking challenges in the dining and cuisine sector. One important thing to remember though is that humans generally take the opportunity to eat three times each day. When one also considers that on average people tend to dine out twice per month, this means that we interact with our readers much more frequently than Recruit's other business domains. Furthermore, introducing large quantities of coupon magazines specific to each region encouraged our readers to take action while tying us closely to each region. One of our most effective endeavors was our strategy of focusing on December-January and March-April, the two biggest party seasons of the year in Japan. We targeted those in charge of organizing events by making it so that if they checked Hot Pepper during this season, they could find all the information needed for their party like capacity, budget estimates, or discounts.

Hot Pepper proved successful in the dining field, so we decided to try our hand in another category that would likely prove fruitful with "Hot Pepper Beauty", a coupon magazine specializing in hair, relaxation, and beauty salons that went into full operation in 2007. One reason for this decision was that our main targets were women in their 20s and 30s, a group known to be a primary force driving consumption in Japan. Another key point was that without many other sources of information at the time, these women generally chose to go with local hair salons in much the same way that they chose where they eat their day-to-day meals.

Keeping people up to date on beauty and creating energy - a search and reservation service for hair, relaxation, and beauty salons

One thing worth noting is that we weren't able to simply carry over all of the knowhow we had acquired during our previous successes with dining information. Most customers at hair salons tend to stick with businesses they already frequent and only rarely make the change to somewhere else. This is why it was difficult for salons hoping to gain new customers to feel any merit in paying to advertise in the media. The fresh idea we came up with to circumvent this risk was having salons appearing in our pages present original hairstyles, which in turn would compose the main body of the information we listed. Most people visit hair salons to get their hair cut or dyed, but if those are their only goals then there is no reason to try somewhere new. However, there is a chance that people who look to Hot Pepper because they want to change their hairstyle might switch if they find information on a salon offering new styles. In short, we changed the search method from searching by salon to searching by hairstyle. It turned out that a great many of our customers came to us with this mindset.

We have continued to work with these novel ideas while conducting new experiments in further enhancing the user value of Hot Pepper Beauty. One example is the way we feature both negative and positive comments in the customer review section for services. Salons that are paying to appear in our magazine want to avoid having a negative image if at all possible. But, being able to sincerely face negative aspects and improve upon them is crucial to enhancing business appeal. We ask that our client salons understand this before they agree to appear in Hot Pepper Beauty.

As this demonstrates, we have continued to move steadily forward while confronting risks that could invite misunderstanding if even a single thing goes wrong. The reason we do this lies in our belief in not simply providing a service so much as creating a more positive influence on people's lifestyles through the power of beauty. We have provided the support needed to increase the number of high quality salons, as well as formulated proper rules for competition between businesses operating in the same area that will vitalize the community. In the beginning Hot Pepper Beauty primarily featured info on hair salons, but we now also focus on other genres like nail parlors, eye beauty, chiropractors, relaxation, and estheticians. We strive to make beauty a means of bringing livelihood to people and communities.

Becoming a part of people's lifestyles and a necessary presence

Hot Pepper has established an overwhelming level of popularity in Japan as a coupon magazine, while Hot Pepper Gourmet is also number one in Japan for online reservations (*according to a study by Tokyo Shoko Research). Hot Pepper Beauty meanwhile continues to evolve as Japan's largest search and reservation website for hair, relaxation, and beauty salons.

Behind the growth of each of these brands and services is our thorough commitment to helping our customers and clients, as well as the entire marketplace and society as a whole, move in a positive direction, with the end result being happier people and communities.

An example of this is "Salon Board", a cloud-based management system for salons we have been offering since 2012 that allows for 24-hour online reservations as well as all-in-one management for reservations made by phone, online or via a homepage, and even walk-ins. It also allows salons to organize their customers, supports promotion for attracting return customers, offers register functions, and provides tools for aggregation and analysis. All of this saves labor and makes online marketing more efficient, so the service has grown to be a huge hit with salons.
There is also the Hot Pepper Beauty Academy, which was founded in 2014. The academy provides a valuable service to the industry by utilizing the knowledge the Recruit Group has accumulated over the years in free seminars for the owners and operators of nail and hair salons.

Dining and beauty are natural parts of people's lifestyles, which is precisely why they hold the potential to produce something that can make our daily lives even more happy and fulfilling. Since Hot Pepper, Hot Pepper Gourmet, and Hot Pepper Beauty are a part of people's lives, there are still a great many things left that we can achieve.

Hot Pepper Gourmet

Hot Pepper Beauty

Hot Pepper Gourmet:A dining-related website packed with restaurant information and discount coupons.
Hot Pepper Beauty:One of the largest domestic search and booking sites for hair, relaxation, and beauty salons.

See also