Great business people are often described as being so skilled in their field that they ‘could sell ice to an Inuit.” Li Yuanhao, a student of Southwest University in Chongqing, China may have put a new spin on the saying by successfully selling sanitary napkins exclusively to male freshmen students. If the first two days alone Li’s business pulled in 600 yuan in profits (US$108) and future sales projections are looking good.

So, how’d he do it? We assure you it has nothing to do with cross dressing this time.

Sweaty boots camp

Every September in China, freshmen enrolled in University are required to undergo some military training. As you might expect, it involves a considerable amount of intense physical exercise. During this the young boys’ feet begin to sweat, which in turn is absorbed by their socks and shoes.

This combination of heat and perspiration creates the perfect breeding ground for the dreaded foot odor-causing bacteria we all know as Brevibacterium linens, or as it’s known in scientific circles, “stinky-feet-germs.”

And they have wings!

There has been a long-standing lifehack when it comes to treating foot odor that has been well known among boys in China. By putting maxi pads inside your shoes, you can virtually eliminate foot odor. It stands to reason, given their original purpose, sanitary napkins have unparalleled absorption capabilities which can trap copious amounts of sweat and thus eliminate the key component of stinky-foot-germ orgies.

A while ago one supermarket knew about this and posted a sign converting shoe size with the pads sizes so boys knew which ones to get.

This helped but didn’t overcome the fundamental flaw behind this life improving technique: menstrual pads were debilitatingly embarrassing for guys to buy. As a university student who underwent the stinky training himself, Li Yuanhao knew their pain, and thought he had a way to capitalize on this back in 2013.

Doing some market research, he went to the supermarket and found that, sure enough, young man after young man could be seen pacing back and forth in the sanitary napkin aisle fidgeting all the while.

His time of the year

Li had one year to prepare until the beginning of university and the military training that came along with it. He spent that time stocking up on maxi pads and repackaging them as “sanitary napkins for boys, by boys” and eliminated that icky feeling of having to buy feminine hygiene products for themselves.

And so, Li followed the textbook path of starting a business by identifying a need in society and finding a way to meet it. This just leaves us with the question of why these boys don’t simply use any of the other currently existing foot odor products on the market.

Surely menstrual pads have absorption powers far beyond average foot odor pads and beyond what anyone would realistically need to prevent foot odor. However, perhaps with all the other added anxieties of being a teenager, these boys don’t want to leave anything up to chance and are willing to spare no expense eliminating foot odor with extreme prejudice. It just goes to show you that fear and anxiety are great motivators for business.

Source: Fenghuang Wang, Tieba (Chinese)
Original article by Meg Sawai
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