If you’re a hay-fever sufferer living in the northeastern United States, you may have noticed your sinuses acting
up over the last couple of days. This is due to a sharp spike in pollen counts brought on by the recent break in cold weather.
For a better understanding of how this might affect the US economy, we can take a look at study from the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute, a research firm in Tokyo.
They report that pollen-related issues are costing Japan $1.8 billion dollars annually. As people’s allergies act up, fewer people go out, which affects consumption. Additionally, more people miss work or are less productive when they do go.
This year’s season is particularly bad. The main reason is tree pollen—cedar and cypress pollen, to be exact.
After WWII, Japan undertook a large reforestation project, planting about 30,000 hectares of trees in and around Tokyo, for example. Those trees are just now reaching peak pollen-producing age.
Due to the sharp growth in the percentage of allergy sufferers, with nearly half the population being affected, an effort is underway to replace the cedar and cypress trees with ones that produce less pollen. Progress is slow and expensive, however. Because there is a risk of mudslides outside Tokyo, only so many trees can be uprooted at once. About 60 hectares are being replaced a year. At the current rate, it would take 500 hundred years to replace them all.
On the other side of the coin, the number of people affected by high pollen counts presents a boon to companies that sell allergy relief medicine. Anterio, a Japanese medical research firm reported that sales of allergy relief medicines this past March were the highest in 10 years, topping $184 million dollars.
If you’re a pharmaceutical company, how might pollen counts be affecting your customers? For marketers of allergy-related products, how can your advertising efforts help get the allergy-relief product in front of people when they need it most?