By Caroline Barnhill
In the United States, uncertain consumers tend to prefer in-between options as a smart choice, a robust decision phenomenon known as the “trade-off effect.” So when trying to promote COVID-19 vaccination, presenting it as the common or non-extreme choice can actually win over those who are not yet vaccinated. However, does this approach carry the same weight in other countries? What about Latin America and the Caribbean, where compromise options are seen as weak or ambivalent? Or in parts of Asia where the effect of compromise can be valued as proof of politeness, avoiding extreme positions that can cause friction?
All this to say that when trying to promote the COVID-19 vaccine, where you live has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. This is the gist of the most recent research published by Stacy Woodprofessor of marketing at Poole College, with colleagues Dr. Kevin Schulman and Mohammad Ali Pate. A paper of their findings, titled “New strategies to support the global promotion of vaccination against COVID-19”, was recently published in BMJ Global Health.
“This is honestly one of the most fascinating research projects I’ve worked on, as we were able to tap into the expertise of marketing and behavioral science professors from around the world – Finland, Brazil, Uganda, India, Australia, Sweden, Israel and more,” says Wood. “Nearly 100 professors from around the world took the time to assess the suitability and adaptability of 12 different immunization promotion strategies.”
Nearly 100 professors from around the world took the time to assess the relevance and adaptability of 12 different immunization promotion strategies.
Globally, they found that the 12 behavioral strategies – which range from cognitive mechanisms like using analogies to educate people to social mechanisms like inducing FOMO (fear of missing out) in offering incentives – might work well in their countries. Yet most needed regional adaptation for the strategy to succeed.
To make the research even more impactful, the paper presents examples of specific tactics that could be used in different regions to reduce vaccine hesitancy and increase the number of people willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
For example, while everyone may tend to value things that are scarce, leveraging the scarcity of vaccines to increase their perceived value needs to be approached, tactically, in different ways across countries or cultures. Ugandans may need to present the rare vaccine as so valuable that it is above corruption and explain that it will be distributed equally to all as soon as it becomes available. In Niger, however, it might be useful to show how the precious and rare vaccine is first offered to esteemed leaders like chiefs, kings or religious leaders. Marketing experts in Chile may frame scarcity differently by pointing out the relative scarcity of the vaccine in other countries — and explaining that since Chile has better access to the vaccine than its neighbors, it would be unfortunate to waste them.
Before offering strategies on how to support the global promotion of vaccines that have worked in the United States, it is worth taking the time to gather ideas and feedback from experts in various parts of the world.
“It is so important that we do not assume that research conducted in the United States or other so-called WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Wealthy, Democratic) societies will be applicable to research in other parts of the world,” said said Wood. “Before coming up with strategies on how to support the global promotion of vaccines that have worked in the United States, it is worth taking the time to gather ideas and feedback from experts in various parts of the world. The variability of advice offered by these experts shows why this type of research is essential, especially when the stakes are so high. »
The summary of the study follows.
“New strategies to support global promotion of COVID-19 vaccination”
Authors: Stacy Wood, Ph.D., NC State University, Muhammad Ali Pate, MD, MBA (World Bank) and Kevin Schulman, MD, Stanford University
Published: October 14, 2021, BMJ Global Health
In 2021, many countries have begun distributing COVID-19 vaccines, but are hampered by significant levels of vaccine hesitancy or apathy. Experts recommend that standard health communication campaigns be expanded to include a more holistic approach to behavior-based strategies. We assembled a large-scale Delphi panel of university professors of marketing and behavioral science to evaluate 12 previously reported U.S. vaccination promotion strategies, asking respondents to rate the applicability of the strategy in their countries, how effectiveness might compare to the United States, and recommendations for necessary local adaptations. to successful implementation. Separately, we investigated whether strategies based on cognitive mechanisms (e.g., “nudges”) are more easily generalizable than strategies based on social identity. Ninety-two marketing and behavioral science professors from universities around the world participated. Overall, the 12 behavioral strategies were validated; a majority of respondents indicated that they would or could work well in their country. Although all the strategies have been strongly validated at the global level, a specific need for regional adaptation has been identified. Additionally, the open-ended responses suggested adding three emerging strategies to a global effort. Finally, we see that strategies based on certain types of cognitive mechanisms are more easily generalizable across regions than mechanisms based on social identity, however, this is not always the case for nudge strategies. All 12 strategies are robust for global use and consensus exists on adaptation for optimal effectiveness in different regions; specific policy recommendations are offered. Using these strategies can accelerate each country’s efforts to achieve desired immunization rates to protect global public health.