QB House, the Japanese based company, created a blue ocean in the Japanese barbershop industry and is rapidly growing throughout Asia. At the heart of QB House’s blue ocean strategy is a shift in the Asian barbershop industry from an emotional industry to a highly functional one.
In Japan, process of activities undertaken during a typical men’s haircut – hot towels, massages, tea and coffee, and special treatments – makes the experience an hour-long ritual. The actual time spent cutting hair is a fraction of the total time, creating a long queue for other potential customers. The price of this haircutting process is 3,000 to 5,000 yen ($30-$50).
QB House recognized that many people, especially working professionals, do not wish to waste an hour on a haircut. So it stripped away the emotional service elements and dramatically reduced special hair treatments to focus mainly on basic cuts. QB House then went one step further, eliminating the traditional time-consuming wash-and-dry practice by creating the “air wash” system—an overhead hose that is pulled down to “vacuum” every cut-off hair. This new system works faster, without getting the customer’s head wet. These changes reduced the haircutting time from one hour to ten minutes. Moreover, outside each shop is a traffic light system that indicates when a haircut slot is available, removing waiting time uncertainty and eliminating the reservation desk.
QB House was able to reduce the price of a haircut to around $10, while raising the hourly revenue earned per barber nearly 50%, with lower staff costs and less required retail space per barber.