It used to be an apple a day that kept the doctor away. Now it's digital media.
To help consumers prepare for cold and flu season before it hits their area, tissue brand Kleenex has launched Achoo by Kleenex, a predictive tool it says that can determine where cold and flu will hit next to eliminate some of the season's uncertainty.
In order to use Achoo, consumers simply enter their zip codes or city and state and answer whether anyone at home is sick. The site pulls up a color-coded map of the U.S., as well as risk forecasts for the next seven, 14 and 21 days for their specific locations. It also provides what percent of local Achoo users were sick that week.
According to the brand, Achoo by Kleenex uses change data caption (CDC) and a forecasting model developed by a "global network of professors, top business leaders and highly trained analysts" to predict where cold and flu will hit next up to three weeks in advance with an average accuracy rate of more than 90 percent.
"It's a great way for Kleenex users to keep an eye on what's going on in their area and [to keep them] prepared to help protect against sickness," says Kleenex brand manager, Anna Elledge.
In addition to the cold and flu predictor, the website features a Kleenex Tissue Calculator that uses the number of kids and adults in a given household to estimate how many boxes of Kleenex that family will use between fall and spring, as well as signs users are getting sick, tips of the day like, "stick to water, herbal tea and fruit juice when you're sick," and a vaccine finder that pulls up nearby locations with flu vaccines.
"Every year, cold and flu hits certain areas of country harder than others and we don't have a good way to know who's going to get hit when," Elledge says. "Even with hand washing and covering our mouths with Kleenex when we sneeze to help stop the spread of germs, we inevitably still get sick."
Achoo by Kleenex provides more than a point-in-time forecast, which forces users to scramble because cold and flu is already there by the time they find out, she adds.
Elledge refers to this as the "day one scramble" when consumers "[tear] apart the house looking for a tissue."
"We want to help people avoid the scramble with sickness in the home when [they] don't have all the tools [they] need," Elledge says. "We want to help people prepare ahead of time so they don't have to run around, or, even better yet, by doing the right things ahead of time to prevent against it hitting [their homes] hard."
The site targets caretakers who are in charge of keeping families happy and healthy, she says.
According to Elledge, Kleenex will sponsor check points throughout the end of the year in cities forecast to be hit the hardest. It started with Chicago on September 25, because it was one of the hardest hit in 2012, she adds.
"As we move along through the season, we will able to check in and see what cities are trending upwards and get out on the ground with Kleenex and coupons on hand to make sure they're prepared," Elledge says.
Kleenex has 145,000 likes and 1,200 followers.
"We're giving people another tool to help protect against getting sick...they can see what's going on and what will be going on as a great way to avoid that day one scramble of being sick and help protect against cold and flu season," Elledge says. "I'm excited to see how it progresses and how it can be leveraged to keep families happy and healthy this fall and holiday season."
Kleenex is a Kimberly-Clark brand.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
March 19, 2014