Since March 2020, the new coronavirus epidemic has spread rapidly to most parts of the world, bringing a full blow to the global and local economy. According to the "Economic Report for the Third Quarter of 2020", the overall performance of the Hong Kong economy improved slightly in the third quarter, but the domestic demand situation remained weak. The Census and Statistics Department announced earlier that in September 2020, retail sales fell by 12.9% year-on-year, of which the value of sales of "pharmaceuticals and cosmetics" dropped by 45.9%. With the fourth wave of the epidemic in Hong Kong and the suspension of "Employment Support Scheme" in November, it is expected that enterprises might lay off employees, the labor market would further deteriorate, and the local economy is still facing uncertainties.
During the epidemic, the product retail sector has encountered the most severe impact and at the same time, accelerated digital transformation. Some large enterprises have strengthened the use of big data to analyze and forecast customer consumption patterns. Besides, they have introduced more artificial intelligence and expanded reality technologies to develop applications so as to provide customers with different experiences and more "personalised" beauty and hairdressing products and services (such as skin, hair or scalp testing services, etc.). In addition, more and more enterprises cooperate with key opinion leaders (KOL)/YouTubers to promote their products. Some product retailers even encourage or require their frontline staff (such as beauty consultants) to conduct regular live broadcasts or arrange videos via smartphones to introduce and promote products as well as answer inquires of customers in real time.
The epidemic has changed the logistics supply chain and business operation mode. For example, in order to reduce the risk of storage, some product wholesalers no longer set up their own warehouses. Instead, they rely on the warehousing services of logistics companies so as to control the quantity of goods more effectively. In addition, in terms of business operations, companies have also increased the use of various online sales channels. For example, cooperate with online live video platforms (such as Big Big Channel, etc.) to conduct direct sales; depend on different online shopping platforms (such as HKTV Mall, T-mall, JD.com, Alibaba, etc.); and explore the possibility of setting up related online "Pop up store" for sales and promotion. Since some product wholesalers are mainly small and medium-sized enterprises, the aforementioned changes will help further reducing the operating costs.
Beauty care salons were required to cease operations thrice by the Government during the epidemic. More and more beauty care salons have begun to approach their customers through various channels. For example, they start to strengthen the sales of skin care products through online platforms or websites, request their beauty consultants/beauticians to provide skin consultation services and recommend suitable beauty care solutions through the video function of smartphones. Some larger beauty chain groups even provide online appointment services for their beauty services. Options are opened for customers on regions, designated doctors or beauticians to provide them with different beauty services.
During the epidemic, there is a decreasing demand for various hairdressing services. To attract more customers and expand their businesses in the long run, there is a continuous major trend for hairdressing practitioners (i.e. hairdressers and technicians) to take photos, do video shooting and upload their hairdressing modeling exhibits to social media platforms for publicity and promotion.
In recent years, the development of hair and scalp care and anti-aging care services is expanding. Such services supported by relevant products and equipment are mainly provided by beauty care salons or beauty care groups. As the market is still in the developing stage, the public has limited knowledge about the products and services. In this connection, it has not been able to attract young people to join this sector.
The aviation industry is the hardest hit in the epidemic that caused to massive layoffs. Individual non-profit making organisation in the beauty care industry has offered medical beauty professional certificate courses to affected flight attendants so that they can master new skills for career transformation. A number of flight attendants have undergone transformation and devoted themselves to the beauty care industry. For example, they purchased beauty equipment and received professional training, then start to provide beauty treatment services by renting commercial units or cooperating with beauty care salons. With the low entry barriers in the beauty care industry and good customer service skills of flight attendants, the industry members expect that it could attract more flight attendants to join the beauty care industry. This potential new workforce would help the sustainable manpower development of the beauty care industry.