TOKYO: Japan’s cosmetics industry is looking to overcome the challenges of sluggish demand amid the novel coronavirus pandemic by offering skin care counseling and other services online.
Although store closures to curb the spread of the virus have ended, the cosmetics sector is still struggling due to a dive in the number of foreign visitors to Japan, as well as a trend to stay home amid the pandemic.
Pola Inc. is giving online skin care counseling sessions to customers over a videoconferencing system at some of its corporate-owned stores, with up to 1,000 branches taking part in August.
At the Pola The Beauty Nakameguro store in Tokyo, store manager Satomi Arai gave advice to a woman in her 40s about the best way to wash her face, communicating on a tablet device.
“Use the ball of your finger for cleansing,” Arai said to the customer in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, who said she is struggling with acne due to wearing face masks often. They talked for 30 minutes, discussing the customer’s issues and ways to resolve them.
Demand for such online services is high not only from people who live far away and cannot come to the store, but also from medical workers and others who must limit their exposure to infection risks.
Pola, a unit of Pola Orbis Holdings Inc., began the online services at 29 of its Tokyo stores after business suspensions in May raised fears that customers might grow apart from the stores. It hopes to double the number of participating stores to 2,000.
Industry leader Shiseido Co. started offering live videos of employees introducing its skin care products. The videos were placed on the pages dedicated to cosmetics on the websites of department stores, gaining popularity for a new style of giving users the ability to ask questions in real time and buy the products. As a result, Shiseido’s sales exceeded its target for July.
“We were able to expand customers’ options,” a company representative said.
The company has been promoting its “live shopping” service of communicating with consumers online in the Chinese market. It decided to use the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to fully introduce the service in Japan.
The use of online services is expected to gain popularity as a way to coexist with the virus while the industry at large continues to suffer.