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Archive for May 12th, 2009

The Situation of Hygiene-Related Sales and Swine Flu

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 12, 2009

Swine Flu MasksThe Appleton (Wisconsin) Post-Crescent has an interesting piece on hygiene-related companies taking advantage of Swine flu fears, which have grown as the the illness has spread (there are reportedly now 2,600+ cases in 44 U.S. states).  We excerpt the piece below.

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Marketers are out in force — particularly on the Internet — with items ranging from 99-cent face masks to potions such as oregano oil that fetch $70 a bottle to third-party overnight shipments of Tamiflu for $135 per prescription.

David Dickson, a spokesman for Dallas-based consumer products giant Kimberly-Clark Corp., which employs about 4,000 people in the Fox Cities, said the company has seen an increase in interest in orders for face masks and other health care products the firm sells through its Kimberly-Clark Professional division.

Kimberly-Clark’s N95 mask respirator meets Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, is effective against airborne disease transmission and is available at most retail stores, Dickson said.

With more people seeking medical attention, health care providers have needed more basic supplies, he said.

Kimberly-Clark’s biggest customer for the face masks is health care providers, Dickson said. Some major marketers are seeing an uptick in sales of items such as masks, latex gloves, anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers.

Consumer gurus aren’t surprised that so many treatments and protective devices related to swine flu — legitimate or not — are getting plenty of traction from retailers and marketers.

“When we’re faced with a potential threat, we tend to imagine the worst,” says Jerald Jellison, a social psychologist. “That’s what marketers are capitalizing on. In a state of high need, with our rational powers diminished, we’ll take almost any action.”

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To read the rest of the piece, click here.  To read other Situationist posts on marketing, click here.

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