Marketing Strategies Can Help Overcome COVID-19 Vaccine Reluctance, Study Finds | News | Notre-Dame news


“We’re all in the same boat” has become a rallying cry during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, although a significant portion of the population is not “all in” when it comes. to get vaccinated.

While the phrase focuses on civilians, new research from the University of Notre Dame suggests experts from various fields must work together to overcome the public health crisis and that science may benefit from using strategies marketing with vaccines, much like brands do with customers. .

“Market segmentation strategies can be used to overcome COVID-19 vaccine reluctance and other health crises” is forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Affairs by Mitchell Olsen, assistant professor of marketing at Mendoza College of Business of Notre Dame, with Matthew Meng of Utah State University.

After the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021, some public health officials and politicians believed herd immunity could be achieved across the entire U.S. population by July 4. Although early vaccination rates seemed to indicate this was an achievable goal, inoculation rates began to drop over the summer as those eager to receive a vaccine already had it. made. More than 30 percent of American adults are still not fully immunized.

The team conducted a national refractory vaccine survey to demonstrate how a process of market segmentation can be beneficial.

Mitchell olsen

“Our investigation revealed important distinctions between four groups of COVID-19 vaccine refractors regarding the nature and strength of the reasons for their aversion to the vaccine and the solutions to which they are most open,” said Olsen. “We then discussed how organizations like the CDC can recruit marketing strategists and consumer psychologists during future health crises. “

In May, the team conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,068 adults in the United States who were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and considered themselves unlikely to be fully vaccinated. All participants indicated the importance of 16 different reasons in their decision not to be fully immunized. They also indicated how useful the 18 possible solutions would be in encouraging them to get the full vaccine.

Results, including demographic profiles, were compared after respondents were classified into one of four segments: unvaccinated refusal, unvaccinated hesitant, partial refusal, or partial hesitant. The segmentation was based on whether the respondents are completely unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and whether they indicate that they definitely or probably will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine or the second dose, if applicable.

“It appears that much of the public discourse has treated those who do not intend to fully vaccinate as a homogeneous group that should be approached with ‘one-size-fits-all’ ‘solutions,” Olsen said. “Obviously, this approach doesn’t seem to work. “

Marketers have long recognized that consumers will rate the same product differently. They increase acceptance of their products by recognizing these differences and tailoring the marketing mix in a way that resonates best with a particular segment of the population.

A market segmentation approach can make immunization campaigns more effective by improving the source, content and / or placement of the message. For example, the approach used today often involves government officials pleading with the unvaccinated to get vaccinated through traditional media channels.

“Our national survey shows that this approach may in fact be counterproductive because, for some, one of the main reasons for not getting the vaccine is lack of confidence in the government,” Olsen said. “The more certain groups hear government officials pleading with them to get the vaccine, the less likely they are to do so. ”

Market segmentation is ultimately about empathy, according to Olsen. It requires the researcher to really listen to people and understand their underlying concerns and motivations so that they are able to respond in a relevant and impactful way. With vaccine laggards, this may involve knowing their concerns, recognizing and validating those concerns, and communicating in a way that addresses them without being patronizing.

“With those avoiding the vaccine because they don’t trust the government and think the vaccines have been developed too quickly, an effective messaging strategy can ensure that the message does not come from a government official, but can – rather be a doctor or a celebrity with whom the segment identifies, ”explained Olsen. “The message could explain how the safeguards were used in the development process to ensure that the vaccine was developed safely despite its speed, and the messages could appear where refractory vaccines are most likely to go,” such as a doctor’s office or in digital publications on pages related to COVID-19. ”

According to Olsen, using a market segmentation approach will improve acceptance of a product, whether it’s a toaster, laundry detergent, or a vaccine. And, similarly, using marketing strategists and consumer psychologists early on in public health crises can improve outcomes for public policy makers and health organizations.

Contact: Mitchell Olsen, 574-631-1734, [email protected]

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