The marketing strategy Australia’s vaccine campaign needs right now

Dr Ofer Mintz, senior lecturer of marketing at The University of Technology, Sydney looks at how marketing's four P's apply to Australia's vaccine rollout.

To prevent further loss of lives, lockdowns, and allow the country to move beyond the pandemic, the Federal Government recently announced 70-80% of Australia’s population needs to get vaccinated. However, Australia has too many of our vulnerable population (i.e. those at most risk to suffer a fatality if infected by COVID-19) currently not taking the vaccine. Further, Australia has too high a vaccine hesitancy and procrastination rate to achieve herd immunity even if we had sufficient supply.

To further complicate matters, the majority of the vaccination efforts are targeting the mass market – those most likely to get vaccinated – instead of focusing on patient-centric communications tailored to each individual that address the concerns that have led to vaccine hesitancy and procrastination.

Thus, the stakes should be clear. The health of the population and billions of dollars in the economy necessitate the government to launch a proactive, well-funded patient-centric marketing campaign with two objectives: (1) to encourage our most vulnerable populations to get vaccinated ASAP; and (2) to build on the enthusiasm and momentum from those currently vaccinated to reduce overall vaccination hesitancy and procrastination.

My research focuses on identifying customer- or patient-centric solutions to address organisational problems. This article builds on my research and best practice examples to provide the following vaccine marketing recommendations, using the four P’s that underlie all marketing – product, promotion, price, and place (locations of the vaccinations) – as a framework for how Australia can achieve its dual vaccine marketing objectives.


The current “most valued customers” to take the vaccine are the most vulnerable populations, which are the most likely to suffer a fatality if they are infected with COVID-19. However, many of these most valued customers are deciding not to get vaccinated due to negative perceptions with the only vaccine, AstraZeneca, provided to them. Thus, instead of fighting a very uphill battle to try to convince this population of the benefits of that specific vaccine, it is important to offer these most valued customers their most preferred vaccine (Pfizer) to overcome their hesitancy. In addition, we could follow the path of Canada and many European countries that offer a mix of AstraZeneca (first dose) and Pfizer (second dose) to further get those waiting for Pfizer to take the vaccine sooner (although this of course would need TGA approval). This will also likely result in fallout in terms of objections from other populations, but addressing most vulnerable populations’ vaccine hesitancy should be priority #1.


A patient-centric approach needs to tailor vaccine advertisement messages to the right patient across the right channel(s). That is, multiple communication efforts are needed to make sure we are providing the most appropriate message for that specific patient on mediums they are most likely to notice and then act.

This campaign should include a mix of all types of media – TV, digital, social media, out of home, direct mailers, emails, text messages, radio, etc. Further, the focus of these advertisement campaigns should be based on the understanding that people typically make their vaccine decisions through a Think-Feel-Do process.

For the vaccine hesitant and procrastinator populations, it is imperative to emphasise the “think” (rational) and “feel” (trust) benefits of the vaccine without which those patients are unlikely to move to the “do” (actually getting vaccinated) stage. And, it is critical for those messages to feature both (i) mega-influencers, such as politicians from all parties and recognisable medical professionals, and (ii) micro-influencers, “everyday people” that look and sound like those in the population, to build the trust for the vaccines. For example, Elvis was enlisted to generate large-scale publicity for the US Polio efforts and, just as crucially, the March of Dimes enlisted everyday people to become a social movement that motivated hesitants and procrastinators to get vaccinated.


The government is (smartly) offering the vaccine free-of-charge. However, a common cause of vaccine hesitancy and procrastination is due to the costs associated with taking the vaccine, such as time-off to get the vaccine, recovery time due to adverse side-effects, and even parking costs at vaccination locations. Hence, there is a need to better explicitly communicate the government and businesses initiatives currently offered to address such cost-based concerns. Further, better appeals are needed to satisfy price-related concerns and establish a social and economic fear of missing out (FOMO) that results by not taking the vaccine instead of many hesitants and procrastinators current fears of the economic costs associated with taking the vaccine.


Many of those hesitating or procrastinating find it very inconvenient to visit the mass vaccination site or GP’s currently providing the vaccines. Hence, it is critical to “take the vaccine to the patients” at more convenient locations closer to their homes, places of work, and other popular locations, and make sure patients are aware of such vaccination options. The government has already successfully taken this approach with aged care residents and many businesses are planning to offer vaccinations on-site. Yet, this approach needs to be expanded to directly reach the vaccine hesitant and procrastination population. For example, Hill Hospital, in the US state of Alabama, provides ride-sharing opportunities, hosts mobile vaccination clinics at popular every-day locations, and has staff actively reach out their communities to ensure they are aware of these offerings; all tactics that should be replicated in Australia.

In summary, achieving herd immunity is the most important health and economic challenge Australia has faced during most of our lifetimes. However, for Australia to achieve herd immunity, it is in need of a proactive well-funded marketing campaign that directly informs and motivates vaccine hesitants and procrastinators to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Ofer Mintz is associate head (external engagement) and senior lecturer of marketing at The University of Technology, Sydney Business School. 


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