Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.


The best of solutions journalism in the sustainability space, published monthly.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Leon Kaye headshot

Consumers Tell Brands to Board the COVID-19 Vaccine Train

A majority of Americans believes silence on the COVID-19 vaccine is not an option for brands - at a minimum, they say brands should share such information.
By Leon Kaye
Krispy Kreme free donuts COVID-19 vaccine

As Krispy Kreme scored praise — and some shade — for its pledge to give customers showing proof they got the COVID-19 vaccine a free donut, a majority of Americans believe that silence should not be an option for brands when it comes to encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

At least, that’s according to the Harris Poll and Adweek, which together polled 1,100 Americans to get their points of view on how brands should respond to the vaccination effort.

It’s not a contest: 60 percent of those surveyed said that brands are obligated to encourage anyone and everyone to be vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19.

And when it comes to the simple act of sharing information about getting vaccines, consumers were even more enthusiastic: 70 percent of them said they are behind brands sharing information about where and when Americans can get vaccinated.

Editor's note: Be sure to subscribe to our Brands Taking Stands newsletter, which comes out every Wednesday.

“Still, there was one middle-class caveat,” wrote Kathryn Lundstrom of Adweek. “A majority of one segment of respondents with a household income between $50,000 and $75,000 disagreed that non-healthcare brands should encourage [COVID-19] vaccinations. So while most consumers overall support brands endorsing vaccines, it’s important to know your audience.”

That caution also applies to how companies decide to share information, especially when it comes to social media. While 73 percent of baby boomers said they trust brands when they share vaccine information, that ratio drops noticeably from generation to generation: Only 37 percent of Gen Xers said they would trust brands over the ongoing chatter about the COVID-19 vaccine occurring on social media.

Hence there is an opportunity to build trust with boomer consumers, who tend to be less fickle when it comes to brand loyalty. Three-quarters of baby boomers surveyed revealed they were most supportive of brands who shared information about the COVID-19 vaccine, and almost 70 percent said they would buy from brands that offered any promotions to vaccinated consumers. So, those lines to get donuts could get long, Krispy Kreme!

Of course, it's also important to remind brands to walk the walk when it comes to supporting the nationwide vaccination campaign, even though the data suggests the U.S. population is getting vaccinated at a steady, even rapid rate. Considering the risks that new COVID-19 strains could cause yet another surge, any contribution to this effort would be a huge plus. “In addition, corporate leaders can deploy their trusted brand names to help make vaccines available to the general public as soon as supplies become available,” 3p’s Tina Casey wrote last month.

Image credit: Start Digital/Unsplash

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye