Brace Yourselves: Extreme Allergies Are Coming

Brace Yourselves: Extreme Allergies Are Coming

The trouble for many people who move to Knoxville, Tennessee, is that our city has long held the distinction of being the seasonal allergy capital of the U.S. Situated in a temperate rainforest, the steady rainfall we receive year-round brings with it lush blooms of vegetation. When the weather warms in early spring, the pollen bursts forth, covering cars in a light mist of yellow.

Aside from the never-ending car wash cycle post-spring, Knoxvillians also have to deal with the influx of often crippling allergies. Even people who had no history of allergy problems have found themselves sniffling, congested and teary-eyed within Knoxville’s city limits.

For those allergy sufferers who live in more allergy-friendly locales, I’ve got some bad news. Researchers are predicting pollen counts to double in the next 30 years. The cause? According to researchers, there is one major malefactor: climate change.

Scientists at the Rutgers Center for Environmental Prediction have posited that the effects of climate change (warmer temperatures, elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and higher-than-normal precipitation levels) will exponentially increase the amount of pollen produced by trees and plants throughout the world. Higher pollen levels means a higher number of people who will feel an allergic reaction and suffer through allergy season.

Couple this theory with other researchers’ predictions of more frequent, and violent, storms, and we’re in for a bumpy (and sneezy) ride. So what should marketers do with this information, aside from stockpiling allergy medicine?

Well, we know from our Eco PulseTM study last year that 57% of consumers surveyed agreed with the statement: “Global warming, or climate change, is occurring, and it is primarily caused by human activity.” We also know that consumers simply do not respond to doom and gloom messages forecasting the end of the world.

This leaves us with an interesting new behavior-changing conundrum. While melting ice caps and rising ocean levels feel so distant to many consumers, especially on a day-to-day level, the threat of extreme allergy seasons might do the trick in convincing some consumers to change short-term behaviors that may be detrimental in the long run to the environment.

Another bit of data to keep in mind from our Pulse studies is that, when given the choice, consumers continue to choose their comfort and convenience over the environment. If “comfort” and “the environment” are the same thing, as could be the case with tackling a rapid increase in allergies, the playing field gets leveled.

Perhaps the opportunity lies in taking advantage of inconveniences that are becoming extremely visible. Marketers could encourage consumers to think small-scale, and pay attention to how their activities affect their immediate environment. Suddenly, the threat of an annoying health issue carries a lot of weight in the eyes of consumers.

Another way of approaching the problem could be through a partnership with an organization, such as the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. By raising awareness of the situation at hand – and potential solutions – both entities could see positive results.

As most red-eyed, runny-nosed allergy sufferers will attest to, allergies are a problem you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. But there may just be a silver lining here. Polar bears are cute, but sneezing is awful. Maybe Americans could be convinced to save themselves from allergies, if they can’t be convinced to save the planet … or the polar bears.

About the Author

Pat Lorentz

Pat is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and GreenBiz.com.

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Glen L. Vesser III

VP Finance and Administration

Glen manages Shelton Group’s finances and administration, ensuring our internal systems run smoothly so we can provide exceptional client service in a seamless and timely manner. Glen’s financial and administrative expertise has been shaped by decades of experience in a variety of industries, including public accounting, media distribution and health care.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.