Mask shortage creates new opportunity for preparedness gear

Last week the country was told by the Centers for Disease Control to wear face masks when we venture outdoors. Problem—there were hardly any masks to be found. My very creative husband transformed some skull cap bandanas into masks for his use (and he discovered a way to make a mask out of boxer briefs).

None of us know when the original threat of the coronavirus will pass, nor do we know if (or when) the virus will come back for a second round. Many consumers are concerned and may feel more comfortable wearing a mask even after we’re told we can safely resume our normal lives.

While several big-name fashion brands stepped up to create masks, they were mostly for medical usage, Bloomberg reports some fashion designers are selling masks to consumers “turning the new necessity into a form of self-expression.”

Is there an opportunity for entrepreneurs to create masks for a cautious public? Obviously the answer is yes—and you can already see some of that entrepreneurial activity on Etsy.

Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst covering retail at NPD Group, tells Bloomberg he thinks masks will “become a staple [retail] item” offered in “fashionable patterns” and many colors. Cohen also says face masks have the potential to be an “it” product and will likely become as ubiquitous as “jeans.”

But why stop there? Masks, Cohen suggests, could be a component of “preparedness gear,” and suggests, “this will be the path from recovery to opportunity.”

It’s obviously too soon for data to show the actual potential of what Bloomberg calls the “fashion face mask” market, but they note “If every person in America is asked to wear one, that’s 280 million customers in the U.S. alone.” And as Cohen tells them, “Now multiply that out to the world. That’s a big opportunity.”

Mask stock photo by Apple_Mac/Shutterstock