[Miscellany] Covid-19 vaccines – intentions, celebrities, and marketing strategy insights

The Covid-19 vaccine effort is truly exceptional. First, how scientists have developed the vaccines at incredible speed. Then, the logistics of manufacturing, distributing and delivering the vaccines around the world. And, now, the effort of convincing citizens to get vaccinated.

According to the Omni Calculator, given the UK government’s priority list, and assuming a vaccination rate of 1,000,000 a week plus an uptake of 70.6%, I will be getting my first dose of the vaccine sometime between 15/07/2021 and 29/09/2021. The second one should follow a few months later – sometime between 07/10/2021 and 22/12/2021, to be precise.

I am looking forward to the day that I will get my dose of the vaccine. It looks like I am in the majority, here, albeit a shrinking one.

Intentions to get vaccinated

According to Ipsos Mori’s survey of Covid-19 vaccination uptake, intentions to get vaccinated are falling pretty much all around the world – except for the USA, where it has grown from 64% to 69%.

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The main reason given for not wanting to have the vaccine is concern over the side effects. I suppose that it is understandable. The vaccine is a product high in credence attributes* and, therefore, it is a risky decision. Even after purchase, we can’t really be sure whether the vaccine protected us from a nasty case of Covid-19 vs a mild one vs no illness at all. In contrast, we can all see the side effects of taking the vaccine – be it by experiencing the usual side effects of sore arms and fever; or by reading in the media about the very tiny percentage of people that get serious effects.

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This is a concerning situation, of course, as we need the majority of people to take the vaccine, in order to protect those that can’t take it, for health reasons. So, governments worldwide have been looking at ways of persuading their citizens to take the vaccine. In the UK, this has included the engagement of celebrities. 

Celebrities endorsement

Have you spotted a celebrity receiving their Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, yet? Hard to miss it, as the government has been keen to engage celebrities in their communication efforts, and they are not shy to share the news on social media:

In Indonesia, the government went one step further, and prioritised vaccinating social media influencers.

Will it work? It might. Celebrity endorsement increases observability, which is a key factor in the diffusion of innovations. It can also make up for the current low levels of trust in the government

Though, celebrities are one tool, only. Other are needed, and marketing – with its history of understanding barriers to consumption and persuading customers to change their behaviour – can help.

A marketing strategy for the Covid-19 vaccine

This article, in the New England Journal of Medicine, outlines how some essential marketing strategy principles could be helpful in increasing the vaccine’s uptake.

The first marketing strategy principle is to divide the market into segments, and identifying what each segment values (or fears) the most. The second is to develop offers for each segment that tap into those goals / fears. The paper also includes advice on socialising customers – that is, helping customers see that others in their social circles are engaging in the desired behaviour; and advice on presenting bad news all at once – to overcome the pitfalls of mental accounting, in particular our tendency to weight losses more heavily than gains. 

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I find this paper a great overview of some core tenets from marketing. I am going to save this for future classes!

So, when is your vaccine due?

*There are three types of product attributes: Search attributes are easy to assess before purchase and consumption – for instance, the scent of a face cream; Experience attributes can only be assessed through consumption – for instance, how soft your skin feels, when you use the cream; Credence attributes can’t be assessed even after consumption – for instance, the anti-ageing attributes of the face cream.

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