japantoday– Since the pandemic started around this time last year, many businesses have been struggling to make ends meet. In addition to many being forced to close or limit their hours last year, with the change of lifestyle that came from “stay-home” and “no crowd” recommendations, the demand for many products and services has also tanked.
For example, since so many people have been working from home, no one has had to shop for business and professional attire, leading major Japanese suit retailer Aoki to suffer a loss of 11.4 billion yen between April and December last year. Dress shoe maker Regal Corp has also seen a loss of 2.6 billion yen, and is resorting to laying off 100 people, so things are not easy even for businesses that were highly successful before the pandemic.
But one surprising industry is flourishing in the midst of the pandemic: the wig industry. Despite closing for a period during the first State of Emergency and opening for limited hours afterwards, wig Company Artnature in particular saw a boost in sales starting in October of last year. In fact, demand for men’s wigs was 275.4 percent of what it was in October of 2019.
Overall sales of men’s custom wigs between October and February soared to 145.3 percent of the same period a year before, which is quite impressive given the state of the rest of the economy. But why are wigs so desirable during the pandemic, when we are all forced to stay at home anyway? According to an Artnature representative, it’s because of video conferences.
“We haven’t directly asked our customers, but we believe that, for men in their 40s and 50s, video conferencing has made them more aware of their hair, so many have taken to buying wigs.”
In essence, Artnature thinks that Japanese men are getting more chances to see the state of their hair on screen, and are, as a result, becoming more self-conscious about it, which is why they’re buying so many wigs. Some Japanese netizens agreed with this hypothesis:
“Thanks to the pandemic, there are a lot more opportunities to look at yourself, you can’t avoid it. The people who are buying the wigs have probably been able to look at their heads a lot more closely and realized they’re balding.”
“That’s true…when I see myself on the screen I tend to become more conscious of how I look.”
Artnature also believes that having few opportunities to go out is also making people want to doll themselves up when they do:
“You can hide your face with masks, but you can’t hide your hair, so we believe that many customers are also paying extra attention to their hair on the rare occasion they get to go out.”
Whatever the reason for the mysterious increase in demand, we can at least be glad that one industry is doing okay when many businesses in other industries have closed or declared bankruptcy in the last year. It serves as a solid reminder that, if there’s a particular product or service you like, it’s worth supporting before it’s gone!