Mask the Purpose

With medical professionals advising civilians to wear personal protective equipment(PPE), many have made or purchased fabric masks to wear out in public areas. The style of the mask and fabric varies depending on availability, but as more and more resources are pushed towards mask making, an aesthetic component emerges. Instead of a necessity, masks are becoming a fashion statement. As this process has happened in other countries during other outbreaks, trends show that it is happening in the United States as well. It is a political statement to either rebel against medical advice and ‘keep their freedom’ or stand with those that are fighting the pandemic. People need to want to wear the mask. It is the network externality or “bandwagon” mindset. As more people wear masks, others will follow. With more and more designs, patterns, and availability, more people will purchase them, because they can choose the ones that express their individuality. Distracting consumers with a style component will encourage more consumers to wear PPE. Producers need to restructure the marketing of masks from a necessity to a choice so that consumers still feel in control of their decisions. The types of fabrics and filters of a mask are also indicators of their socioeconomic status. Higher grade filters and fabrics will indicate a higher status as technological advances becomes more expensive. While these trends will expands the mask market, it will also impact other forms of self-expression such as makeup and other accessories. Changing the purpose of a product to make it more appealing is not a new concept, but it seemed like interesting trends are emerging as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

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