Pi Attitude Zone: Conformity & Stability

Handwash: It’s All In The Manual

Purell is an alcohol-based hand cleaning product, originally designed as a hygiene aid for health-care workers when soap and water were not to hand.

It was briefly in the news when the media learned that it was frequently used by Dick Cheney, vice-president in the George W Bush White House.  The veep apparently had a distaste for shaking hands with public well-wishers, and wanted them “off his hands” …once the glad-handing was over.

Actually the last Bush administration seems to have had a general thing for hand-wash sanitizer.  The ‘Deciderer’ himself apparently used the stuff immediately after first shaking hands with candidate Barack Obama, and was promptly branded a crypto-racist and germophobe by the press.  W protested that he was being ‘misunderestimated’.  Indeed, someone has calculated that a US president shakes about sixty-five thousand hands a year.  A dab of Purell from time to time would hardly go amiss under those circumstances.

Purell is now established as a hugely successful brand, and an active protector of public health and hygiene.  It was not always so, however.  In its first ten years of existence as a consumer product it lost money, and seemed to be going nowhere.  According to ceo Joe Kanfer, “People couldn’t get their minds around it.  They didn’t know what it was for.  The sales guys… couldn’t sell the stuff”.

The breakthrough came only after a long, patient process of consumer education, and steady pressure on healthcare service providers.  Now it is widely accepted that alcohol in this form is the most effective anti-microbe product for use on human skin, better than antimicrobial soap. The World Health Organization has made it official.

Purell is now the established market leader in a market worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It is unusual these days to find a hospital or clinic where dispensers of germicidal alcohol-based hand-cleaner are not stationed throughout the facility.

Pi says: cleanliness is next to godliness… and, apparently, to profitability.

Zone: Conformity & Stability Country: USA / North America Product – Consumer Products