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Hand sanitizer is a product that emerged in the second half of 20th century. An alternative to washing hands, this waterless formula has been endorsed by the Center for Disease Control as a successful method to clean hands. They recommend an alcohol concentration of at least 60%, but products contain anywhere from 0% (alcohol free) to 95% alcohol. A dime sized amount is sufficient to clean hands if rubbed in thoroughly. Though waterless antibacterial gel has existed since the 1940s, the first consumer product was not introduced until 1988 by Purell. A full time line can be found at the GOJO website. The product was initially marketed to hospitals for emergencies and food service industries to improve the hygiene of procedures. However, in the past decade hand sanitizer has spread to the general public as well. It is found in government buildings, schools, and universities across the country and has become a permanent and accepted fixture of our daily life.
Hand sanitizer supporters claim numerous benefits of the product. It is used by nurses and doctors in hospitals, students and teachers at school, and business people at work. Other individuals also carry the product in bags or on key chains for fast and convenient use on the go. These people either directly endorse the product through advertisements, images, and testimonials, or indirectly simply by using hand sanitizer. Some of the benefits referenced by hand sanitizers supporters are:
- Hand sanitizer is fast - Hand sanitizer needs to be rubbed in for 20 seconds or less, compared to the recommended 60 seconds needed for effective hand washing. This is particularly important for people that are required to wash their hands frequently, like nurses. In order to prevent cross-contamination, hospital employees must clean their hands every time they move between patients. If a nurse is required to clean his/her hands 7 times per hour during an 8 hours shift, it would take him/her 56 minutes to wash their hands, compared to only 18 minutes to use hand sanitizer.  The medical profession has particularly highlighted this advantage of hand sanitizer because time is so valuable in a hospital. Evidence of this can be seen in the gelFAST Wearable Hand Sanitizer product, which can be worn on the belt for easy, quick access. Ads for gelFAST employ the slogan "Need it, Do it, Done", emphasizing how quickly the product can be used.
- Hand sanitizer effectively kills germs - A review of 26 separate studies on the effectiveness of hand sanitizer concluded favorably, stating that it "support[s] the use of alcohol-based rubs for routine hand hygiene" and that hand sanitizers "remove microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and multiple drug resistance microorganisms from hands of personnel more effectively than hand washing with non-medicated soap or other antiseptic agents and water." The effectiveness of hand sanitizer is frequently used as a selling point, with most products claiming to kill 99.9% of bacteria. This advertisement for Purell shows an illustration of germs cowering in fear from Purell hand sanitizer. Other advertisements also suggest using hand sanitizer will keep you both germ and disease free. This advertisement claims it will kills germs that cause disease and foster a "healthy environment." Some doctors and nurses have supported the use of hand sanitizer as an effective way to promote hygiene in hospitals, as explained in this article.
- Hand sanitizer is convenient - Hand sanitizer can be used anywhere, anytime, and is thus more convenient than traditional soap and water. Germ-X advertises that it can provide "quality antibacterial protection at home, work, school, or "on-the-go"."  As one consumer writes on the Purell website, "You do not need soap and water to use PURELL®; it goes anywhere: fits into your purse and leaves your hands felling clean and refreshed." Hand sanitizer is marketed in small, easy to carry bottles and even in key chains. As one review by "Purell Lover" states on the Amazon site for Purell key chains, "I've owned a Jelly Wrap Purell keychain for around 2 years now. I can't tell you how handy this is especially with young children!"  Hand sanitizer's convenience and portability is key in its success, as it fills a need of consumers to be able to clean their hands on the go. This is something hand washing can never provide, giving hand sanitizer a distinct market.
Since its move from hospitals and food services into schools, the navy, workplaces, bags, and purses, hand sanitizer has garnered numerous supporters. In a society where we fear germs and sickness, many have turned to hand sanitizer to keep their hands clean. One website even suggests selling hand sanitizers for school fundraisers, as "putting hand sanitizer everywhere all the time, year round benefits everyone." Other companies have begun to make hand sanitizer fashionable, using designers to make the products stylish. For example, Ed Hardy has created a line of sanitizing products, pictured on the Ed Hardy website. Products like the Kootie Killer use scents and fun colors to market hand sanitizers specifically to kids. These products illustrate how deeply hand sanitizer has enmeshed itself in society and become a marketable product. Clearly, hand sanitizer has gained a following in society. It fulfills society's desire to have clean hands quickly and conveniently.
While there are many supporters of hand sanitizer use, there are also many people who are against its use or, more specifically, its overuse. Because it is so widely accepted in society, many people are unaware of the risks that arise from the improper use of hand sanitizers. Those who are opposed to the use of hand sanitizer express their dissent through written articles, interviews, and warning labels. The main risks of hand sanitizer use are outlined below.
- Hand sanitizer may lead to superbugs - Most brands of hand sanitizer claim to kill 99.99% of bacteria on the hands. The 0.01% of bacteria that survive are resistant to the alcohol in the hand sanitizer. These bacteria may then more effectively evade antibiotics and lead to a rise in not only illnesses, but more severe and more difficult to cure cases. The Mayo Clinic advises limited use of antibacterial products in the home because its use in the home "may make [them] less effective in hospitals." Constantly killing the nonresistant bacteria on the hands allows the resistant bacteria to multiply more rapidly than it could under normal conditions.
- Hand sanitizer does not remove dirt from hands - Hand sanitizer is intended to be an on-the-go supplement to traditional hand washing. However, people often use hand sanitizer as a replacement for hand washing, even when a sink and soap are readily available. One website states that "using hand sanitizer every once in a while as a backup is OK. But it's no replacement for good old fashioned soap and water." The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also states that hand sanitizers should only be used "after proper washing of hands" to minimize the amount of microbes transferred when handling produce implying that hand sanitizer on its own is not suitably sufficient. Traditional hand washing, if done correctly, removes dirt and other contaminants from hands. Hand sanitizers may be as effective at killing bacteria, but it does not remove any other grime from the hands.
- Hand sanitizer is not safe for children - Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have warning labels that state that the product should be kept out of reach of children. In order to be considered effective, hand sanitizers must contain at least 60% ethanol. This is the same alcohol present in wine, beer, and liquor. Typical liquors contain 40% ethanol. Children are allowed unsupervised use of hand sanitizers in most schools, and the high alcohol content could cause serious health problems for them if even a small amount were ingested. Some groups advise parents to avoid scented sanitizers because they are more tempting to children to taste. Also, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is highly flammable and should be used under careful adult supervision.
Because hand sanitizer is so popular in society, many of the dangers and warnings associated with it are often ignored. Many people believe that hand sanitizer is the best way to stay healthy because it kills such a high proportion of the bacteria on hands. However, researchers note that hand sanitizers kill 99.99% of bacteria in laboratory conditions. In real world applications, studies show that they only killed about 46-60% of bacteria on hands. While hand sanitizer can been an excellent supplement to traditional hand washing, its users should take care to understand exactly what the product does and why it can be harmful if used incorrectly.
The convenience of hand sanitizer has made it an item commonly found in purses, key chains, hospitals, and near entrances of classrooms and dining halls across the country. This technology increases cleanliness practices and in turn improves preventative health measures. In addition, its appeal is strongly correlated to social awareness and concern of possible epidemics. For example, as seen in the graph below, the Nielsen Company indicates that the demand for hand sanitizer increased during flu seasons and was substantially amplified in 2009 due to the spread of the H1N1 flu virus.
This trend suggests that though the properties and effectiveness of hand sanitizer are still areas of debate amongst the scientific community, the success of the product depends on the consumer perception of increased health risk. Hand sanitizer sellers successfully play on the implicit fear of germs and sickness. With a rise in perceived risk of illness or the presence of more germs, people compensate by purchasing easy-to-use hygiene goods, including hand sanitizer.
Multiple brands of hand sanitizer have been marketed (e.g. Purell, Germ-X) in the past decades. The success of the product is not solely due to the chemical components, but also the marketing strategies. It utilizes the same advertising strategies of hand washing, namely that it kells germs and can prevent disease and even save lives. With these tactics, hand sanitizer is viewed as a replacement for soap and water and is seen as easier to use than the hassle of hand washing. Most of the dispensing technology ejects the recommended dose to minimize possible over-consumption. The creation of pocket-sized, automatic dispensing, and wall mounting containers aid in the attractiveness of the product. Because it appeals to a diverse population of individual buyers and large industries it can proliferate across markets and be found in many sizes in an array of locations.
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Overview of Hand SanitizerEdit
Hand Sanitizer: Function and EffectivenessEdit
Hand Sanitizer: Perceptions and PracticesEdit
Overview of DeodorantEdit
Deodorant: Function and EffectivenessEdit
Deodorant: Perceptions and PracticesEdit
History of Hand SanitizerEdit
History of DeodorantEdit
Humans have been using substances to cover up their sent since antiquity. Ancient Egyptian women, for instance, would use scented wax that would melt during the day. The ancient Greeks and Romans also used a variety of scented oils and perfumes to mask unpleasant odors. The first chemically-based product, branded as "Mum", appeared in 1888. The first antiperspirant, sold as "Everdry" was introduced soon afterwards.  Neither product caught on particularly well. The products were unpleasant to use, often causing a stinging sensation on the skin. These products were frequently acidic as well, burning through clothing. Instead, women who wanted to mask their perspiration used rubber or cotton pads called "dress shields" that were placed in the armpit. Men typically made no attempt to cover up sweat or body odor.
The first commercially successful deodorant was created by a Cincinatti high school student named Edna Murphy. The daughter of a surgeon who invented an Aluminum Chloride solution that prevented perspiration during long surgeries, Murphy decided to commercialize the formula into a product called "Odorono". While sales were slow at first, her booth at an 1912 Atlantic City exposition brought the product public attention. Sales immediately took-off, with orders coming in from as far as England and China. 
Odorono sales grew strongly for a few years, but by 1918 they had plateaued. The Thompson agency, the company in charge of marketing Odorono, conducted a in-depth door-to-door survey to find out why. They discovered that nearly every woman knew of Odorono, but about 2/3rds of the women surveyed felt that they had no need for it. The Thompson agency devised a plan that would deeply change the marketing world: instead of just marketing the product as a medical treatment, they decided to present it as a beauty aid. The resulting ad, "Within the Curve of a Woman's Arm", ran in the Ladies Home Journal in 1919.  Considered sensational for the time, the ad brought up the taboo topic of body odor, suggesting that the reader might be ignorant of her need for a deodorant. 200 readers of Ladies Home Journal canceled their subscriptions in protest, while Odororno sales rose by 112% that year alone. Odorono sales reached 1 million dollars by 1927, and Murphey finally sold the company in 1929.
While the sales of Women's deodorant skyrocketed, there was an entire market segment that remained untouched: men. While advertisers were able to convince women that body odor detracted from their feminine charms, body odor actually fit within the societal ideal of masculinity. As such, men's deodorants had a hard time catching on. The first male deodorant, called "Top-Flite", was introduced in 1935. Advertisers attempted to prey upon insecurities as they did for women, but through different avenues. Ads showed men losing their jobs due to odor, or women refusing to go on a second date. Advertisers quickly realized that men's deodorant needed to be hyper-masculine to overcome the stigma of the original women's product. For instance, the makers of Sea-Forth, a men's deodorant, decided to sell their product in ceramic containers that looked just like whisky jugs. The company owner claimed that he couldn't think of anything more masculine. Gradually, men's deodorant caught on, but the need to make it seem incredibly masculine can still be seen in over-the-top and highly sexualized contemporary ads.
Deodorant sales have consistently climbed since the early 1900s. In 1979, American spent around 500 million dollars yearly on deodorants. By 2012, that figure hit 1.3 billion, with over 90% of Americans using some sort of deodorant or antiperspirant.  The method of application has also changed since the early 1900s. While products like Odorono were swabbed on, the invention of the roll-on and aerosol deodorants in the 1950s made the application of product much easier. By the early 1970s aereosol deodorants were the most popular by far, capturing 82% of all sales. After fears over CFCs emerged, however, the popularity of stick deodorants increased and now are the dominant form used.
Hand Sanitizer AdvocatesEdit
Hand Sanitizer OpponentsEdit
Given this factual information about deodorant and hand sanitizer, we now seek to explain their successes in the marketplace.
Both products gain popularity by implying that a failure to use them will result in terrible outcomes. Hand sanitizer assures customers that bacteria are everywhere and that they or their children will become sick if they fail to sanitize their hands. Deodorant, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, has warned users that their body odor may be causing others to dislike them, even if they themselves can't smell it.
The Power of HabitEdit
Over 90% of human behavior is habitual. Once a customer begins using either product on a regular basis when in a particular situation, it is thus likely that they will continue to use it in that situation in the future. E.g., if one always uses hand sanitizer before eating their lunch, this behavior may quickly become entrenched and an individual will continue to use and buy hand sanitizer with no persuasion on the part of marketers. Much the same may occur for an individual using deodorant each morning.
Both products reward users via negative reinforcement; that is, they let users avoid something undesirable. An important characteristic of such reinforcement is that it can prevent future learning. For example, if a laboratory dog learns to avert a shock by moving to a different part of its enclosure when a light turns on, it will always do so when the light appears and thus never learn if it would still get shocked had it not moved. Similarly, an individual who always wears deodorant to avoid smelling bad will never learn whether the product is actually necessary for them to avoid body odor, and a hand sanitizer user will never learn if they would have gotten sick had they not sanitized their hands.
Lack of TestabilityEdit
Because the onset of illness is correlated with a number of different factors, it may be difficult for an individual to determine whether their use of hand sanitizer is actually keeping them healthier. Along the same lines, because of olfactory fatigue, it may be difficult for individuals to determine if they possess mild body odor. As a result, the true utility of both products remains difficult for users to verify. This may allow both preconceived notions and beliefs instilled by advertising to go largely unchallenged.
Appeal to Major DrivesEdit
<something about maternal instincts keeping your kids from getting sick>
Appeal to Major DrivesEdit
According to Maslow and others, not all human drives are equally potent; the desire for social power is less potent than the desire for food and water, for example. Consistent with this, deodorant usage increased sharply when marketing efforts shifted towards targeting social insecurity or a desire to remain gainfully employed, rather than a desire for personal hygiene. More recently, many deodorant advertisements have shifted towards making extreme (albeit implicit) <internal link> promises of sexual attractiveness. In all cases, the appeal is not to desires to fight odor itself, but to more fundamental and powerful drives that provide more impetus to buy the product.
Big But Believable ClaimsEdit
As described, deodorant marketing does not just target powerful human drives, but often makes extreme claims regarding the extent to which the product will help one fulfill them. Importantly, however, these claims remain plausible (at least in a tempered form) due to the aforementioned <internal link> unverifiability of the product's effectiveness. That is, <link> Odorono may not actually be necessary to avoid social rejection (for example), but such rejection is a severe outcome and it is plausible that Odorono could prevent it. It is therefore reasonable for a consumer to buy it, even if not skeptical of its benefits.
An analogy can be made to the notion of expected value in probability theory. If one has a 10% chance of avoiding a loss of $20, this has an "expected value" of 10% * $20 = $2. Similarly, if deodorant offers even a small chance of avoiding social ostracism (a terrible outcome), then the utility it imparts (small chance of avoiding something terrible) is quite large.
Deodorant as a Dominant StrategyEdit
As previously mentioned, deodorant was not seen as necessary early in its history and was even seen as effeminate and undesirable by many men. However, the private nature of deodorant usage makes its application a winning strategy for individuals who believe that it has some benefit. Put simply, no one knows if one uses deodorant (so there's no social cost for using it), but others do know if one fails to use it and smells (so there may be a social cost for not using it). Monetary incentives aside, this means that one is always at least as well off wearing it as not wearing it. This is simple to see if one spells out each case (Table 1). In game theoretic terms, this makes wearing deodorant a dominant strategy.
|Wear Deodorant||Don't Wear Deodorant|
|Deodorant Needed||Good (no odor)||Bad (body odor)|
|Deodorant Not Needed||Good (no odor)||Good (no odor)|
- Sivulka, Juliann. "Odor, Oh No! Advertising Deodorant and the New Science of Psychology, 1910 to 1925." Journal of Macromarketing. Vol. 28. No. 1. 2455 Teller Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320 USA: Sage Publications Inc, 2008.
- Duhigg, Charles. The power of habit: why we do what we do in life and business. Vol. 34. No. 10. Random House Digital, Inc., 2012.
- Dooley, Roger. Brainfluence: 100 ways to persuade and convince consumers with neuromarketing. Wiley. com, 2011.
- Mazur, James E. Learning and behavior . Prentice Hall/Pearson Education, 2002.
- Odors chapter, Fundamentals volume of the ASHRAE Handbook, ASHRAE, Inc., Atlanta, GA, 2005