A sore throat and high fever were never so much a cause for concern as they are now, thanks to the swine flu pandemic. Each day, the Indian media report new deaths caused by the flu. And each day, the media also reports precautions and the names of hospitals one must go to if experiencing certain symptoms. There is a lot of panic, especially in households where a family member has come down with an infection that may or may not be swine flu. The only hospitals that currently test and treat potential swine flu patients are government-run, notorious for their poor infrastructure and slow service.
The players that seem to be profiting from this whole malady are pharma companies (those given the go-ahead to make Tamiflu) and manufacturers of face masks and hand sanitizers, which are selling their wares at a premium. Some manufacturers of surface cleaning liquids and tissues also seem to be doing well.
One supermarket in Mumbai had a swift response to the health advisory to keep hands clean, filling a wall near the store’s entrance with antiseptic liquid hand wash. The product is normally found deep in the store’s interior, while the front space is typically reserved for soft drinks, chocolates and large packs with special deals.
What other small yet timely and meaningful actions can brands support or initiate? How can they further help customers take positive preventive steps in the face of anxiety? This is a unique space for FMCG brands and retailers in particular, which can be vital channels for small, positive actions that can help consumers combat their anxiety.