April is the beginning of the fiscal year for many companies in Japan, and the time of year when many new employees begin to work. As a result, it's also an opportunity for first-time meetings at the office.

In March 2019, Japanese hair care, skin care, deodorant and perfume manufacturer Mandom Corporation conducted an online survey of 380 working women in their 20s and 30s, asking them about their priorities and concerns when it comes to what impression they want to make on other female coworkers.

Let's take a look at the three questions asked by the survey, and the results they produced:

Question 1: In April, for example, when many people begin a new chapter in their professional lives, what impression do you want to make on people you meet for the first time [at the office]?

Although one may think that personality or other aspects not dependent on appearance would rank highly here, the top two choices vying for first place were "Clear skin" and "Seems easy to talk to" at 27.6% each, followed by "Youthful" at 22.6% (for "Strongly agree"). According to the press release, "the face is the part of the body people look at the most, and it is often said that the skin is a mirror for your lifestyle and the condition of your internal organs. Sometimes, people try to assess a person's lifestyle by the condition of their skin. Perhaps for that reason, many respondents were very conscious of their skin."

Question 2: At the beginning of the new fiscal year [in April], in what area do you feel a gap between yourself and new female employees assigned to your department?

When comparing themselves to new female employees assigned to their department, the majority of respondents indicated that they felt a gap when it comes to "their way of thinking and stance" (43.9%), followed by "skin" (36.6%). According to the press release, this indicates that the respondents are concerned with what "type" (see below) the new employees are, but they also pay attention to their skin and feel a gap in that respect.

(New employee type: Every year, the Sanro Research Institute publishes a report assessing new graduates entering the workforce, giving them a type name inspired by technologies, trends or current events popular at the time. For example, the 2017 class was "Drone type," 2018 was "SNS-savvy team pursuit type," (in reference to the women's skating team pursuit gold medal which Japan won in the PyeongChang Olympics) and 2019 is "Smart speaker responding to your commands type")

Question 3: When you feel a gap between yourself and new female employees who were assigned to your department, in what way do you make efforts [to bridge it]?

When it comes to specific actions the respondents (down to 318 for this question) wanted to take to bridge the gap they felt between them and their new coworkers, the answers are predictable, based on the previous question. If the new employees' way of thinking or their stance towards work was different, they wanted to make improvements in their work (36.3%). And if they felt the new employees had clearer skin, they wanted to work on skin care (35.8%). However, unlike the previous question where nearly 7% separated the two top replies, the difference was nearly negligible for this question, which indicates once again just how important skin care is for young working women in Japan today.

While we have no way of knowing how the 380 respondents were chosen or if there was any bias in the survey which could have influenced their responses, it is only normal to expect that Mandom Corporation can benefit from obtaining results indicating that Japanese working women are concerned with skin care. Nevertheless, the results do provide some insight on the current state of mind of young working women in Japan today.

By - Ben K.