Blue Ocean Strategic Moves

QB House

QB House, the Japan-based company, created a blue ocean in the Japanese barbershop industry and is rapidly growing throughout Asia. Starting with just one outlet in Tokyo in 1996, today QB House has 463 franchise outlets in Japan and 79 in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. At the heart of QB House’s blue ocean strategy is a shift from an emotionally oriented Asian barbershop industry to a highly functional one.

In Japan, the 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 ($27-$45).

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 1,000 yen ($9), while raising the hourly revenue earned per barber nearly 50 percent, with lower staff costs and less required retail space per barber.

QB House’s strategic move illustrates the potential to create new market space by challenging the functional-emotional orientation of an industry, path five in the six paths framework.

Blue ocean strategy is based on over decade-long study of more than 150 strategic moves spanning more than 30 industries over 100 years. The research of W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne focused on discovering the common factors that lead to the creation of blue oceans and the key differences that separate those winners from the mere survivors and those adrift in the red ocean.

The database and research have continued to expand and grow over the last ten years since the first edition of the book was published and the strategic moves we studied depict similar patterns, whether blue oceans were created in for-profit industries, non-profit organizations, or the public sector.

Here are a few examples of blue ocean strategic moves from a variety of different industries and sectors. Select from the icons below to learn more.

    Bloomberg Financial News Case Study
    Canon Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Cemex Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Cirque du Soleil Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Curves Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Ford Model T Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    iTunes Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    JCDeaux Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    NetJets Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Novo Nordisk Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    New York Police Department Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Peirce College Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Philips Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    QBHouse Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Quicken Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Polo Ralph Lauren Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study
    Viagra Blue Ocean Strategy Case Study