You need to do a good job of psychological construction when you walk into the barbershop, and everyone is tacitly aware.
Women bet on luck. Does the hairstylist’s understanding of “fix it” have the same gap as themselves in the Grand Canyon of South Africa; men are standing in front of the shop and chattering, most likely it is unacceptable, just trimming, how dare to take it? Nearly three-digit price.
The classic words of traditional barbershops: “make a card”, “do you want to be a caregiver”, and the opening of the awkward chat “Where are you from?”, they can always accurately step on the thunder of fear in contemporary society.
A group of people took the lead to escape.
Since 2014, a number of fast-cutting shops, represented by Kuaifa and Xingke Duo, have appeared in China, focusing on “no card, no sales, no nonsense”. At the same time, by reducing the length of service, increasing the number of services, and lowering the unit price, the online hairdressing market has opened up a territory, which is especially sought after by male users.
This model is not new. It comes from the Japanese quick-cut chain brand QB House, which is called Quick Barber. The core is to achieve the ultimate in a single haircut service.
According to information on the official website of QB House, it has opened a total of 700 stores in Hong Kong and Taiwan including Japan, Singapore, the United States, and China, including 565 stores in China. In the 38th service industry survey conducted by the Japanese financial newspaper “Nikkei MJ”, its sales volume ranked second in the comprehensive hairdressing and beauty market in Japan.
What’s interesting is that QB House has attracted a large number of Chinese apprentices, but in the 7 years since it took root, none of them has become a local brand that can match it and change the pattern of the industry.
Kuaifa, a leading player in the domestic industry, is transforming into a “new beauty industry smart store”, but there is no actual landing case. Xingkeduo merged with Singaporean healthcare company Novena in 2019, and earlier, in addition to cutting hair, it also began to sell self-developed products.
The question left for us to discuss is: Why does the pure QB House model not work in China? Nowadays, the objective market demand has allowed more fast-cutting shops to succeed. Can the pattern of offline barbershops be changed?
A good business
A domestic male student studying in Japan, while completing his studies, the second skill acquired is likely to be pushing the head. Correspondingly, girls have a high probability of taking care of long hair. Xu Qing, a Ph.D. student from Jiangsu, has become accustomed to seizing the opportunity to return to China once a year to quickly go to the barber shop to adjust his hair style. Her male classmates bought clippers online and taught themselves.
The service industry is developed and labor costs are high. The direct consequence is that haircutting, a daily consumption, has become an expense that most international students cannot afford in Japan.
”It’s too expensive.” Xu Qing was speechless. “Boys have to do more than a hundred times, not to mention girls have to do modeling, directly without capping.”
Of course, this is not just a problem that plagues international students. Twenty-five years ago, a Japanese medical equipment distributor named Konishi Kuniyoshi was also trapped by him. Because he was about to meet and have a meeting with the client, in order to impress him, he hurriedly walked into a barber shop and planned to trim his hair. He didn’t realize it. During the whole process, he was forced to wash his hair twice and received a massage service. . After picking up the bill, Konishi Kuni was so angry that he vomited blood: a total of 6,000 yen.
This unpleasant experience gave Konishi Kuniyoshi the idea of starting a business. He believes that there are bound to be many people who want to cut hair, save time, and charge reasonable fees. QB House was born.
A standard QB House store, about 10 square meters, is equipped with two or three hair stylists. There is no cashier. Customers scan the QR code on the self-service machine at the door to make an appointment and complete the payment. The entire hair cutting process is controlled within 10 minutes. No extra words. After the end, replace the hair with a self-developed hair absorption device, and the process can be completed. The charge is around 1,000 yen, which is equivalent to about 60 yuan, which is less than 1/3 of the price of a traditional store.
According to data publicly disclosed by the QB House Group, in 2019, the number of domestic customers in Japan alone exceeded 18.4 million. Affected by the epidemic, there will be a slight decline in 2020. The last fiscal year’s performance report showed that as of June 2021, the company’s annual operating profit was 463 million yen, or RMB 27 million.
The model of QB House has been discussed countless times as a classic case. Its core is how to maximize efficiency. The company’s favorite set of comparative data is: A hairstylist in a traditional barber shop serves up to 8 customers in a single day. In QB House, this number is 30.
In essence, QB House has done a business of “standardizing personalized formats”, and in this process, the business logic has also changed: from attracting customers to stores, to customers looking for stores.
A Japanese student ridiculed: “QB House is a barber shop for the poor. It is suitable for people who do not have special requirements for hair styles. If you are a girl, if you want to fix it here, you can thin it out over there. If you ask too much, you will get a haircut. The teacher rolls his eyes. ”
In any case, its success still allows the Chinese apprentices to see the possibility.
Quanminxing is a small quick-cut chain store in Beijing. The partner, Mr. Wang, told us that his father had been making beautiful things for a lifetime, and he was fascinated by him, but he did not catch a cold until he learned about the new format of “Quick-cut”.
”The older generation’s thinking is more traditional. They still apply for cards and promote sales, hoping to make money faster and more direct.” Mr. Wang said. But now 80% of consumers don’t like this model anymore. “This business should be simplified and done in response to the needs of customers.”
The difference in thinking between the two generations gave birth to different business methods. Quanminxing officially prepared to open in 2018. The founding team purchased professional quick-cutting equipment and recruited programmers to develop the self-service system of the store. In just one year, the direct-operated stores have expanded to three. Mr. Wang said that if it were not for the sudden impact of the epidemic, the pace of shop opening at the beginning of the business would continue.
For the industry, the better endorsement is of course capital entering.
Xingkedu, established in 2015, has won the favor of well-known investment institutions including Meihua Venture Capital, Innovation Works, and Shunwei Capital. Chain brands such as Kuaifa and Q Fawu have also won the first round of financing.
However, one detail is that since Xingkeduo merged with Singaporean healthcare company Novena in 2019 to jointly establish a medical technology company, no new investment and financing incidents have occurred. It seems that the track has died down. But judging from the practitioners we have contacted, the track has been endless for those who left, changed, and joined.
Why is “Quick Cut”
The pink wall, twenty to thirty square meters, with a depth of less than two meters, three seats, arranged horizontally from left to right, can be seen from the outside of the glass wall. Apart from this, there are no other large pieces of equipment in the store.
The long white tube called the “vacuum extraction hair shredder” extended from behind the mirror and aimed at a man with short hair. The sound of “wheezing” was strong and powerful, instantly sweeping away the broken hair on the neck. He stood up and left. A little boy carrying a schoolbag outside the door had already scanned the QR code at the door to place an order. After sitting down, it was another quick cut journey.
This is a half-hour observation of a Xingke multi-store. This hotel is located in a commercial district in downtown Beijing with many stars and customers, surrounded by large residential areas and office areas, as well as complete living facilities such as supermarkets, cinemas, and gyms.
The owner, Zixuan, told us that he opened this franchise store six months ago with a starting capital of around 150,000 yuan. In the past six months, it has invested about 300,000 yuan, and it has just reached a break-even state every month. For him, “Quick Cut Shop” is an escape. He is an “old man” with more than ten years of experience in the hairdressing industry. He left because he could not stand the sales pressure and complicated interpersonal relationships of traditional stores.
”Traditional stores actually don’t care about your technology, but value sales ability.” Zixuan explained. The clerk’s salary is firmly tied to the sales commission, so it will spare no effort to recommend customers to apply for a card for large-scale consumption such as ironing and dyeing and nursing.
In order to increase the pressure of employees, the store often team up to PK performance, single-to-single, or many-to-many. Over time, they began to intrigue each other.
To a certain extent, the thirst for cash in traditional stores is similar to that of traditional gyms, that is, they charge a large amount of funds in advance, return the cost of the investment, and then use the next batch of funds to support current expenditures.
According to the “China Life and Beauty Industry Development Report 2020” jointly issued by the China Chamber of Commerce and Meituan, the operating costs that mainly include store rents, labor wages, utilities, and material costs are the biggest problems faced by such stores. The operating costs of more than half of the merchants accounted for 40% to 50% of the store’s operating income, and 30% of the merchants accounted for 70%.
The pressure comes back to ordinary customers. On the one hand, they have to endure the sales clerk’s pain, and on the other hand, there are rising prices. The report also mentioned that compared with 2018, the unit price of hairdressing customers in 2020 has increased by 2.9%. The average unit price for women is 137 yuan and that for men is 95 yuan.
The verified QB House quick-cut shop seems to have rescued both the practitioner and the customer at the same time.
Zixuan calculated an account. His store rent and property fees were less than 15,000 yuan a month. If it were opened in a shopping mall, the price would have to be doubled. Because there is no consumption such as washing and dyeing, another major expense is labor costs. There are three hair stylists, including himself, and he will occasionally be away.
The income structure of hair stylist is the traditional “base salary + commission” model, Zixuan gave a high base salary in the early stage, because the new store opened soon, and a large number of customers received the first order discount of 19.9 yuan.
Xingkeduo’s unified pricing is 39.9 yuan, and the number of orders in the store is around 30 on weekdays, and it will double on weekends. Calculated, the current monthly income of a hair stylist is about 8,000 yuan, which is in the upper-class level in the industry.
In Beijing, such a fast-cutting shop is basically similar from cost to staffing. According to Mr. Wang of Quanminxing, since its establishment, Quanminxing Express has accumulated nearly 100,000 users. The store is small, the location avoids large shopping malls, does not provide washing, and does not have other functional personnel other than hair stylist, which will reduce the operating cost. Press to the minimum.
Mr. Wang told us that the daily passenger flow of a single store is around 30, and the hair stylist’s income is between 6,000 and 7,000 yuan. This is too much like a “small and beautiful” business, Zixuan couldn’t help but sigh: “I don’t have to worry about the pressure of sales anymore!”
Actually don’t make money
It is said that “the people who win the hearts of the people will win the world”. Quick cut is a good business. It not only solves the pain points of customers, but also makes practitioners feel relaxed. But what is puzzled is why there has not been a prairie fire in the offline beauty industry. Potential?
It is true that traditional barber shops have their inherent advantages, and high consumption will also bring different experience services, from a glass of water, to coffee, tea and fruit plate, to scalp massage. The inner volume of hairdressing starts from the details, but it also makes some consumers enjoy it.
Mr. Wu, the head of the market for the brand lemon quick cut from Shenzhen, was blunt, and he himself topped up 5,000 yuan in a traditional store. The reason is: on the one hand, family members have the need to shampoo; on the other hand, there is a discount for membership, and a single haircut can be discounted to 80 or 90 yuan.
Yes, this does not mean that “quick cut” will replace traditional barber shops.
In fact, in Japan, QB House, the originator of fast-cutting, is developing rapidly, while traditional stores are also increasing. According to survey data released by MILBON, a well-known Japanese hairdressing brand, between 2000 and 2010, the proportion of salons with a unit price of more than 8,000 yen and less than 4,000 yen has shown a significant growth trend. However, this did not delay QB House from becoming a mature chain store.
In 2018, QB House was successfully listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and gradually achieved internationalization.
Xingkeduo used to be the Chinese apprentice most like QB House, such as the self-developed Beauty OS management system, which unified the technical standards of hair stylist.
But as the result showed-it was merged into a medical beauty company, and its founder, Zhuang Wei, also planned very early. When it has accumulated a certain user scale, Xingkeduo will integrate with the beauty e-commerce and integrate hairdressing products and hairdressing products. Quick Clip is included in the “one-stop solution”.
The fundamental reason for this is-fast cutting does not make money!
Zixuan of Xingkedu said frankly that from his experience, the source of the huge profits of most traditional barber shops nowadays is no longer dyeing, but supplementary products such as nutrition and care.
Everyone realizes that ironing and dyeing takes time and does not make money. Products such as low-priced care products will basically be sold to customers at 5-10 times the price. The profit margin depends on the location and cost of the store, up to Ten times.
Since joining Xingke for more than half a year, this store has just reached break-even, and the initial cost, including initial fees and labor costs, is still far away.
In March of this year, a complaint about Xingke Duo appeared on the Black Cat platform. The whistleblower said that his family became an investor in Xingkeduo’s store in Yanggao North Road, Shanghai. It was operated by Xingkeduo with full power, but lost 80,000 yuan for two months. It was not profitable for 29 consecutive months and had zero dividends. Now the shop has quietly closed and retreated, and the principal has been lost.
Undoubtedly, this industry is confused. In fact, Nationwide Star also launched a perm service shortly after its opening, and Lemon Quick Cut simply changed the service scene.
Soon after its establishment, Lemon Clip began to provide items other than haircuts such as blackening. Mr. Wu told us that the main reason is that the hair stylist is not happy.
”It is very difficult for a shop to have a hair stylist purely by cutting hair.” He said frankly. But the new project of the fast-cutting shop did not work well. Customers who usually need to be blackened are actually those who have requirements for beauty, and the experience of a store built with fast-cut standards does not meet the demand at all.
Lemon Clip is exploring another way: employees cut it.
In Shenzhen, they settled in large factories such as Foxconn in the form of containers covering only a few square meters to provide hair cutting services for 9.9 yuan. Compared with the past, it takes more than ten minutes to walk outside the factory to cut hair, which costs nearly 40 yuan. Workers prefer high-quality and inexpensive employee cuts.
According to Mr. Wu, most employees in the factory do not have much individualized needs for hair cutting, which instead gives new opportunities to the fast cutting industry. Unfortunately, it is difficult for him to recruit a suitable hair stylist. Because of the special situation, the employees will only focus on customers within a few hours after work every day in the factory. A single hair stylist needs to complete 6 to 7 orders within an hour, and a station is only a few hours. “It’s all hard money.” Mr. Wu added.
For this reason, the employees have increased their salaries, and the monthly income of each hair stylist can reach eight or nine thousand yuan, which is about 40% higher than the industry average in Shenzhen. For the company, it has increased the real cost pressure.
Difficult to reproduce pattern
When we compare the quick cut shop and the employee cut bar together, it is easy to find the problem: a Xingke multi-store with two hair stylists on a regular basis has a daily passenger flow of 30, while the employee cut bar is only five in the evening. It can reach 40 in an hour.
The successfully verified QB House once had a famous ad slogan: 1,000 yen for 10 minutes. This represents a delicate balance between efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
According to the official website of QB House, the average haircut time of its hair stylists is 12 minutes and 15 seconds. On social media, many bloggers’ shop experience videos show that QB House’s hair stylist is still working at such a fast-paced frequency. A steady stream, even the need to queue up to an hour.
A QB House in Taipei, China also has such a requirement in its rules for recruiting hairstylists: it takes a long time to stand.
From this perspective, the employee cut bar model is more in line with the quick cut format represented by QB House: high salary, but it comes from high frequency and hard service.
The sophisticated logical chain of the business model is revealed. The staff cut bar set up at Foxconn, compared to outside the factory, the price of hair cut is attractive enough to attract a large number of customers, just like QB House’s 1,000 yen charge level, which is equivalent to 1/3 of the local traditional barber shop. Even lower, so the market is vast.
Correspondingly, the haircut of “Stars and more people” is 39.9 yuan, which is not an advantage compared to traditional barber shops.
Take Beijing as an example. When we searched for “haircut” near the Xingke multi-stores we surveyed, the group purchase price is mostly between 30 and 70 yuan, from many small individual hair salons. Xingkedu has no obvious price advantage among them. At the same time, the density of 3 barbershops within 500 meters also makes competition extremely fierce. Mr. Wang from National Star told us that its charging price is basically the same as that of the surrounding traditional stores.
In fact, compared with the high prices of Japan’s service industry, the country still enjoys the dividends brought about by labor intensiveness, and consumers can win “cheap” fruits in the competition in the service industry.
Ever since, a revolution about time has slowly transformed.
Konishi Kuniyoshi has a famous angle experiment: He tried countless times and found that only when the angle between the tool table and the mirror is 139.68°, will it not affect the hair stylist’s movement, so that it can serve customers every time Save 1 second. The main purpose of the self-service reservation system of the store is to help customers calculate the waiting time-everything is for efficiency.
In China, the most basic configuration for fast-cutting shops is to replace water washing with a dedicated hair extractor, develop their own mini programs or official accounts, and manage an appointment system. The latter is a big cost in the initial stage of entrepreneurship.
We have consulted Jialiang Jiao, the founder of Jinju Xiaodian, a small program development service provider. According to his explanation, under normal circumstances, a store management system has to be divided into three ends-customer end, merchant end and platform end. The cost is in the hundreds of thousands, which is determined by the complexity of the demand.
In the final analysis, efficiency and customer acquisition do not match, and the vain external form is by no means a core competence.
Each Xingke multi-store reservation QR code poster also printed the words “Recommended by Lei Jun and Kaifu Li”. The favor from Shunwei Capital and Innovation Factory always reminds the outside world: this was also a gold-plated track.
”Quick Cut” is synonymous with the Internet to transform the beauty industry. It has been given imagination. Nowadays, it is just a practitioner of the slogan “No card, no sales, no nonsense”, and transfers the business model of traditional barber shops to customers and hairstyles. Between divisions.
We mentioned the problem of applying for a card in a traditional gym. Now, there are “Internet + gym” such as 24-hour gym, dedicated exercises, pay-per-use, etc. to change the pattern. Is it possible for a traditional barber shop?
According to the “China Life and Beauty Industry Development Report 2020”, last year, China’s life and beauty market was about 637.3 billion yuan, with an online rate of only 1.5%. With the help of digital transformation, it is expected to increase to about 9.6% in 2025. This includes changes in various aspects such as business strategies, marketing methods, and service levels.
When you are in it, you need to think about how to divide the cake.