What if the same strategies used to sell a car could be used to increase vaccine compliance in other parts of the world? It’s a question marketing experts are studying as the world continues to struggle to achieve high vaccination rates to help end the pandemic.
The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine varies widely around the world, resulting in disparities almost everywhere. Only one-fifth of the world’s population in low- and lower-middle-income countries has received a first dose, well below the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 40% of the population against COVID -19 by the end of this year.
While much of the problem is supply-side, getting more vaccine to more parts of the world alone will not increase immunization rates overall. Vaccine hesitancy – often coupled with a lack of understanding of vaccine safety and benefits – continues to hamper distribution efforts around the world, including in some of the hardest-hit regions. by the pandemic.
Marketing experts think they may have a solution. A new Stanford MedicineA study-led study shows how certain marketing strategies that target human behavior – similar to those used to sell new technologies or flashy cars in the United States – can be culturally adapted to influence individuals to accept the COVID vaccine -19. For example, car brands are strongly associated with individual identity and provide a sense of pride and status, the researchers said. Perhaps appealing to his notion of identity could positively influence vaccination rates.
“What is needed is a positive and proactive communication strategy to effectively achieve high uptake in low and lower-middle income populations,” said Kevin SchulmanMD, professor of medicine, who led the study and is director of the Clinical Excellence Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine.
In the studyPosted in BMJ Global Health October 14, 2021, Schulman; Stacy Wood, PhD, professor of marketing at North Carolina State University; and Muhammad Ali Pate, MD, global director for health, nutrition and population at the World Bank, note that the findings could help accelerate global efforts to achieve desired immunization rates.
The study examined 12 marketing strategies that Schulman and Wood identified in the US market and detailed in a paper published in February in the New England Journal of Medicine. They interviewed a panel of 92 academic experts from each of the World Bank’s seven regions – Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Europe and Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, East Asia and Pacific and North America – to assess whether these same strategies could increase vaccine acceptance.
“This was probably the largest study soliciting the opinion of global marketing academics ever undertaken,” Wood said. The team hopes their research will serve as something of an instruction manual to help local health officials prepare education campaigns and avoid the steep learning curve that other countries have faced when it’s about understanding and accepting the vaccine.
The study found that strategies based on personal or group identity generally successfully encourage people to accept the vaccine, but the nature of these identifying factors varies from country to country. In countries in Europe, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, for example, people tend to align themselves strongly with sports, so the authors recommended promotional campaigns in which sports teams and players have approved the vaccine.
In East Asia and the Pacific, on the other hand, community members identify more with their profession, suggesting that a campaign linking vaccination to career success might yield better results.
Identifying a common enemy, such as the economic impact of the pandemic, appears to be an effective tactic both inside and outside the United States, the researchers said. Additionally, some local communities might use emotion-based analogies, such as “vaccination protects you like a mother’s loving arms”, to enhance acceptance.
As rates continue to rise, the authors said invoking a strategy called innovation observability, which draws people’s attention to the popularity of getting the vaccine, appears to be working in all cultures. For example, a bulletin board with an electronic counter of people vaccinated can serve as a thank you to those people, while keeping the community informed of daily vaccination rates.
The World Bank funds local vaccination campaigns, the researchers said, but governments and local health officials must first submit a communication plan. The study authors hope that this research can help inform local governments and health officials when creating vaccination campaigns and by simplifying this process.
picture by oleg_chumakov