Health and Hygiene - Fear of Germs and Bacteria - UK - September 2009
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Swine flu has been at the centre of media coverage since May 2009. Now declared a pandemic with government advertising to educate people of ways to reduce the spread of the virus, it has very much entered the public consciousness. Qualitative research run by Mintel with Toluna shows that, although people claim not to have changed their hygiene habits in the wake of the swine flu publicity, they do appear to be more aware of germs. A number of respondents bought on-the-go hand sanitisers and amongst a few, there is a heightened sensitivity to others who are showing symptoms of a cold or flu. For these consumers, antibacterial products and sanitisers offer a barrier and respond to their fear of getting ill. Particularly with the backdrop of the recession, adults who are still in employment may be reluctant to take time off sick for fear of losing their jobs. Retailers such as Superdrug have reported a spike in sales of some hygiene products.
Fear is a common advertising theme amongst household cleaning products as it taps into consumer concern and fear of germs and bacteria that is invisible to the naked eye. However, promoting products based on fear may also be deterring people from buying into the antibacterial products market. This tactic may be giving rise to the perception that these days people are too obsessed with germs and that it is good to have exposure to some germs.
This report seeks to identify whether British people are genuinely scared of germs and bacteria and whether media coverage of swine flu has raised awareness or fear of bacteria. This report examines the impact of consumer fear of bacteria on the market for antibacterial products and other products that claim to kill germs.
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