The beauty services industry is comprised of beauty-related services at specialized facilities and by specialized personnel, covering several areas. In Japan, the field of work in the industry is broadly divided into four segments and includes hairdressers (beauticians and barbers), nail artists, eyelash artists, and estheticians. Employees in the various categories operate in their own types of facilities, have their specific skillsets, and service competencies. Hairdressers specialize in hairdo services, nail artists in nail services, and eyelash artists in eye-beautification services. Estheticians operate more broadly, offering beauty treatments such as facials, depilation, massages, and slimming treatments, although the availability and type of service will mostly differ depending on the operator as not all estheticians offer the same services. Hairdressers comprise the lion’s share of the beauty service industry in terms its market size.
State of the beauty services industry
Several aspects underscore the maturity of the industry: starting from the ubiquitous presence of beauty services in Japanese society and media to the industry’s infrastructure, to its sizable and active consumer group. The number of beauty parlors is indicative of the high demand for beauty services in Japanese society. It is said that there are over four times more beauty parlors in Japan than there are convenience stores. Accordingly, the number of employees in the beauty service industry is relatively high, with beauticians alone surpassing the half-million mark. The industry’s framework is fragmented rather than consolidated. There is fierce competition between industry players, and newcomers face an uphill battle.
Women-dominated consumer market
Certain beauty services, such as visits to the beauty parlor, are very common in Japan. More than four out of five women, regardless of their age group, are regular customers at beauty parlors. Figures show that most of the spending in the beauty industry in Japan is done by women. In general, the utilization rate of beauty services by women is higher than that of men regardless of service type (except barber shops, which are visited by men only). At the same time, the average spending per beauty service per session by women is also higher than that of men in all beauty service categories. The market is still mainly geared towards women’s beauty service spending, as this is the established custom. However, Japanese society’s ongoing negotiations regarding gender stereotypes affected many aspects of life, including people’s relationship to beauty and consequently the beauty service industry. As gender stereotypes have begun to be questioned, especially among younger generations, the market enlarged its service portfolio to cater to the beauty needs of men.
Generation differences among men
While men of all age groups use beauty services, there is a notable contrast between generations regarding the type and the prevalence of used services. Tendentially, younger generations decide more often for the beauty-conscious choice compared to their elder peers, as evident when looking at figures relating to the gender distribution of male beauty parlor visitors. Contrary to women, who are limited to the visit if beauty parlors, men can choose between barbershops and beauty parlors when deciding for a haircut. Barbershops typically offer haircuts (and usually is the simpler and more economical choice), while beauty parlors provide customers with a broader variety of services, including perms and coloring. Figures show that the utilization rate of beauty parlors by men was mostly on the rise in recent years, while the utilization rate of barbershops declined. Seeing how the appetite for beauty consumption and spending is not limited to women, one could draw the conclusion that the beauty service industry could gain plentifully if it manages to attract a broader share of men to use its services, dismantling in the process aged (beauty-related) gender stereotypes.
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