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Hand Sanitiser: The Forgotten Variable

Typically, a hand sanitiser is judged solely by its acclaimed efficacy, such as “containing 60%+ alcohol content, which is in line with NHS guidelines for effectiveness against viruses”. This way of thinking certainly has its merits, but it generally seems an outdated, even limited, way of viewing the relevant product. 

For example, if a sanitiser was very efficacious, but required high dosages and an extended drying time, this would be an impractical product. High doses cause spillages and the unhygienic tendency to wipe hands on clothes, which is counterproductive. Additionally, an extended drying time disincentives consumer usage or promotes consumer misusage (whereby they don’t wait for their hands to dry for, say, 60 seconds). Or, in something which might hit closer to home: if the gel comes with such a revolting, generally alcoholic, smell, consumers won’t use the gel. To make matters worse, said consumers might even be less inclined to use the next sanitiser offered to them if the previous experience was an unpleasant one. That’s an exponential negative. 

It’s clear, therefore, that a hand sanitiser is something beyond its efficacy. That’s, of course, to not devalue the importance of how efficacious the product is - it must balance being the primary concern whilst being not the only primary concern.

Ultimately, the question of sanitisers beyond their efficacy is part of a much more fundamental concept; how should a hand sanitiser be judged? 

Well, it’s not just for their efficacy. It’s for their efficacious usage. Let’s break that down. 

Efficacy is E. Usage is xU. The most medically developed, effective, antibacterial and antiviral hand sanitiser in the world - it kills germs really well - would have a E rating of 0 (the lower, the better). The most consumer friendly, attractive, beautifully scented and gentle hand sanitiser - everyone loves to, and does, use it - would have an xU (Expected Usage) rating of 0 (again, the lower, the better). Under this matrix, efficacious usage is reached by 

E x (xU) = ExU = good hand sanitiser

where the lower the product total, the better the ExU. This is the forgotten variable. Before, the algorithm was

E  = good hand sanitiser

But, what good is a hand sanitiser with a very high E, but such a low xU that no one uses it? An efficacious gel that no one will put on their hand is not a good hand sanitiser. A hand sanitiser should be judged by the rate at which it is used in combination with the rate at which it kills germs. That’s efficacious usage. 

This has been a cornerstone of our philosophy at gelcard. Our product is the manifestation of viewing sanitisers beyond their efficacy. A hand sanitiser should have good consistency, be well-scented, be convenient; it should do everything, everything it can, to incentivise its usage. Then, with its efficacy, it can effect positive change - save lives.

It’s an industry where outcomes matter, and the best outcomes are reached by hand sanitisers which work that people use; not by those which work but people won’t use. It’s an intuitive conclusion, but also one seldom found in our industry.


Charles A. Robinson - CEO


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