Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist & Jake McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer
Covid vaccines are finally starting to arrive. In order to achieve herd immunity, the United States will need 70% to 80% of the population vaccinated against Covid-19. However, there are many who view this as a political issue, many who are generally distrustful of vaccines and some who don’t believe that the pandemic itself is even a reality.
I think the fundamental issue we face is a marketing problem, one that boils down to perception and behavior. Modern understanding of changes in perception and behavior can actually be informed by what we know about marketing. In other words, we can understand how individuals go about making major life decisions using principles from marketing psychology.
Knowing the hurdles we face in achieving widespread vaccination levels means that we can’t win with rational, logical, fact-driven messaging. Numerous studies have shown that rational approaches aren’t very effective at changing behavior. Instead, emotional connections are the most effective way to change beliefs and behaviors, especially around complex topics such as vaccines. Research indicates that making an emotional connection can be over 800% more effective than rational based arguments.
As always, it starts with research and an understanding of people’s needs and values. We must focus on the views that they currently have and identify the messaging that will best align with those views. This messaging should be emotional and reflect an understanding of what’s in it for the individual: How will it make a measurable difference to their lives?
Once the more willing segment of the population gets vaccinated, others may be more willing to get on board through social proof and “The Authority Principle.” Social proof reflects on how we’re compelled to do things that we see others doing, and “The Authority Principle” reflects on how we put more weight in the opinions and behaviors of those in positions of authority. Together, these principles offer a tangible and specific way to make a dent in the vehemence to avoid the vaccine. These give people a level of comfort that statistics don’t provide.
In this time of extreme uncertainty, we are all looking for someone with strong believability to make us feel better about the vaccine, and we’re comforted to know that “we’re all in this together.” We’re looking for the right balance of safety and community and hoping to make the country safe again for gatherings and family holidays.
We all want to get back to normal, but at the same time, we want to protect our families, particularly those considered vulnerable. These are truths for all of us, those willing and unwilling to take the vaccine, and these truths can have a huge emotional impact. Imagine the horror of finding out that because you didn’t take the vaccine, an older loved one got exposed to the virus and became seriously ill.
We believe that we can work together to convince people to participate in the immunization program and thereby helping push the nation towards herd immunity…and the reality of eating in the same room with our family members.