Marketing the COVID-19 Vaccine

Key takeaways:

  • The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will have a major impact on every aspect of life, and healthcare organizations will be tasked with informing and convincing skeptical parties to get vaccinated.
  • Healthcare marketers can connect with those wary of the vaccine using emotional appeals and facts. 

In Parts One and Two of this series, we explored how COVID-19 has affected media behaviors this year and how it will continue to impact media events and trends. Luckily, 2021 promises to bring back some normalcy with a vaccine—but only if people actually get it. On top of the logistical challenges around availability, scheduling, and storage, hospitals also have the challenge of informing and educating their local communities—especially those that are wary—on why they should get vaccinated.

Studies suggest that, as of November 2020, six in 10 Americans would get vaccinated, but not all demographics are ready to eagerly embrace the vaccine. Per Pew research, 54% of black adults surveyed in June 2020 said they would definitely or probably get a COVID-19 vaccine if one were available today, while 44% said they would not. Hispanic and white adults were much more likely to say they would get the vaccine—74% in both groups say they would, while around a quarter say they would not. These rates will likely shift as the vaccine is distributed widely with minimal adverse effects.

Gen X is a crucial healthcare audience, but it’s mostly been forgotten by our culture and marketers—although they did have a moment in the spotlight when COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect, as many of them were perfectly content to stay home while simultaneously trying to wrangle their baby boomer parents and teenaged children who resisted social distancing rules. SPM’s proprietary research study, the Consumer Compass®, reports that Gen Xers have a skeptical side that might make a portion of them distrustful of the vaccine. More so than baby boomers and millennials, they agree with the statements “In general, I’m skeptical about what doctors have to say” and “When it comes to my health, I know better than my doctor what’s the right thing to do” (source).

In order to reach the level of inoculation necessary for COVID-19 to fade away, healthcare marketers need to connect with the groups that are most nervous about getting vaccinated and reassure them with facts and expertise as well as emotional appeals. There is also an opportunity to build trust through social conversations and from support of local influencers that align with the audiences most wary of the vaccine. But, as we all know, there are polarizing opinions around the vaccine, and marketers will need to ensure they can monitor and help maintain a civil conversation directly and on all social channels. 

2020 brought many challenges and hard-earned lessons for healthcare organizations and marketers—and 2021’s vaccine rollout will bring more, as well as opportunities for connection with the people they serve. No matter what the future brings, media teams can pay attention to trends and put together smart strategies for the year to come.