Most Consumers Will Accept Vaccine, But Not A Rapid Return To ‘Normal’

Most consumers are willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the near-term, but the willingness to return to “normal” may take longer to materialize. Research and advisory firm Gartner’s Consumer Community Survey found that 52 percent of consumers say they will get the vaccine as soon as they are able and 19 percent say they will a few months after it becomes available, but a majority indicate a low level of willingness to engage in a range of normal activities, even after they’ve received a full dose of the vaccine.

“In an age of intense political polarization, misinformation and distrust, the willingness of consumers to accept a COVID-19 vaccine and return to normal life comes with scrutiny,” says Tim Barlow, director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “This creates a delicate balance for brands and marketers trying to gauge buying behaviors and plan activities and campaigns for the year ahead. Marketers will need to be prepared to invest further in proactive, trust-building communication and resource building.”

Gartner’s research found that just 50 percent of consumers label themselves as “informed” or “extremely informed” when it comes to the development of COVID-19 vaccines. This is compared to the 18 percent of consumers who believe they are “uninformed.”

“There has been no shortage of misinformation when it comes to the treatment of COVID-19,” adds Barlow. “Consumers have had to become judicious when deciding where to turn and whom to trust for health-related guidelines and messaging. Seventy percent of consumers label their doctor as an either ‘influential’ or ‘extremely influential’ source of vaccine information, followed by health institutions at 58 percent.”

Gartner recommends several approaches that brands and marketers looking to either tap into the COVID-19 vaccine conversation or plan for a return to “business as usual” should consider. These include leveraging trusted experts to provide thorough, digestible vaccine-related communication, a paramount consideration through at least the first half of 2021. The firm also notes that consumers will accept both the vaccine and a return to normal life at a varied and perhaps slower-than-expected pace, and marketers should scenario-plan accordingly. It also emphasizes that the enforcement of pandemic-related safety protocols, such as face masks and social distancing guidelines, will be important for the foreseeable future.

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