West Nile Virus Affects Retail

Aug 08, 2002

The five reported fatalities in Louisiana from West Nile virus has spurred a run on insect repellents and insecticides in retail stores according to USA Today. West Nile virus has been found in 34 states, primarily in the eastern half of the country.

The virus, spread by a bite from an infected mosquito, has given new urgency to purchasing mosquito-fighting products. Sprays and other products within this category are a $200 million-a-year market.

Retailers have increased stock levels and are working closely with suppliers to provide for the needs of consumers. “We are sending additional quantities of mosquito repellent to southern states,” says Chris Ahern of Lowe’s.

Moderator’s Comment: How do retailers and marketers
of mosquito repellent and related products address the current need for their
products without appearing to be taking advantage of consumers fearful of getting
West Nile virus?

We applaud SC Johnson makers of Off!, the top-selling
repellent. The company has not increased its advertising schedule to exploit
the situation. Company spokesperson, Cynthia Georgeson was quoted in the USA
piece as saying, “We are not going to market to someone’s misfortunes
or fears.” [George
Anderson – Moderator

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