Market View

The Era of Clean Air for Sale

2013/4/30 Tuesday
fromTTAccount Director Keiichi Komaki
Compared to past years, there are greater numbers of people wearing masks on the streets this Spring.

Every spring a large number of people are affected by “Kafunsho,” or cedar pollen allergy, an affliction that casues itchy eyes and runny noses. According to Ministry of Environment one out of six people suffers from cedar pollen allergy. Since one of the ways to protect oneself from pollen is to wear a mask, the number of mask users increases this time of the year.

Compared to last year, the amount of pollen in the air has increased dramatically, and depending on the area, the pollen count has been 5 times higher than last year. In addition to the increase in pollen, there are two additional reasons for driving the rapid growth of mask users: yellow sand, blown up by subtropical Westerlies from the Gobi Desert (Mainland China) and PM2.5, a particulate pollutant caused by factories and motor vehicles in China. It is the first time that PM2.5 clouds have reached Japan and various TV programs have run special features introducing risks of PM2.5 and how to take countermeasures. For these reasons, sales of masks have been 4 times higher than the average year and masks that can filter PM 2.5 are becoming top selliers.

Sales of air purifiers are also on the rise similar to masks, high functional device (costing as much as 40,000 to 50,000 yen) which can remove microparticles from the air are top sellers. Depending on the store, sales of air purifiers have been 2 to 3 times higher than the average year.

Years ago people thought of Japan as the country with free water and air, where people can get clean air and high quality tap water anywhere /anytime nationwide. However, during the last 10 to 20 years, mineral water has thoroughly penetrated the market and established the image that one has to pay for good drinking water.

This raises the question of how much it costs us to get clean air to breath? Using one high-performance mask per day costs 300 yen. A high performance air purifier costs 50,000 yen. A clothes dryer (so as not to have to dry clothes outside) is another 50,000 yen. Detergent designed to aid indoor drying costs 500 yen. A pollen resistant coat costs 15,000 yen. Such items are now common in the market and indicate that that we have entered an era in which we have to pay for clean air.

And “clean air for sale” is now a new area of focus for marketers in terms of both new products and marketing communications.