Should Brands Be Encouraging Covid-19 Vaccinations? Most Consumers Think Yes

In a new Harris Poll/Adweek survey, 60% of respondents said it’s an obligation

By KATHRYN LUNDSTROM | Adweek | March 29, 2021

As Covid-19 vaccines become more available across the U.S., brands are faced with an important decision: should they encourage their customers to get it or stay silent on the subject?

Central to that question, of course, is whether consumers want to hear that kind of thing from the brands they support. With that in mind, Adweek partnered with The Harris Poll to survey 1,100 Americans about whether brands should chime in on the conversation around vaccinations.

Most consumers want brands to speak up

Overall, a majority of respondents supported non-healthcare brands using their platforms to promote Covid-19 vaccinations. While 60% agreed brands have an “obligation” to encourage people to get vaccinated, an even higher percentage of respondents (70%) said they support brands sharing factual information about how and where to get vaccines. In addition, 62% indicated they believe brands have an obligation to go beyond information dissemination itself to dispel myths around Covid-19 vaccines.

Still, there was one middle-class caveat: A majority of one segment of respondents with a household income between $50,000 and $75,000 disagreed that non-healthcare brands should encourage Covid-19 vaccinations. So while most consumers overall support brands endorsing vaccines, it’s important to know your audience.

The donut does help

Last week, Krispy Kreme announced that it would give away free donuts to newly vaccinated customers. (Though they later added that if someone chose not to get a vaccine for personal reasons, they can still get a donut.)

Still, the promotion made a lot of noise in the world of brands—and according to our survey, 70% of consumers think brand rewards like Krispy Kreme’s could work to encourage more vaccinations. The same portion of respondents said they would also see a giveaway campaign as at least somewhat effective in encouraging them to get a Covid-19 vaccine themselves. The promos could also have a positive impact on sales—60% of respondents said they’d be more likely to buy from a brand that offers promotions to encourage vaccinations.

Brands have an opportunity with older consumers

While a majority of respondents (58%) said they trust brands more than they trust social media when it comes to vaccination information, the generational divide on this question was wide. While 73% of baby boomers said they trust brands over social media, that portion drops sharply with age: 63% of Gen X, 44% of millennials and 37% of Gen Z trust brands more than they trust information on social media.

Baby boomers were also the most supportive of brands sharing information related to the vaccine (75%), and the most likely to buy from a brand that offers discounts or promotions for vaccinated patrons (68%).

Still, government agencies and news media are more trustworthy sources of vaccine information than either social media or brands, according to most respondents—71% said they trust the news over brands, and 79% said they trust government agencies more than brands.

For America’s favorite brands, encouraging vaccinations is a net positive

When asked whether they would change their opinion of their favorite brand if it shared information about vaccinations, 42% said of respondents said it would bolster their views of the brand, 43% said it wouldn’t affect their opinion and just 15% said it would lower their opinion.

Read the full story at Adweek.