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Here’s How Gen Z & Millennials Feel About Brands Encouraging the COVID-19 Vaccine

More brands are rolling out campaigns rewarding vaccinated consumers—but do young consumers think brands should be promoting the vaccine? We asked…


Earlier this year, the U.S. government announced their plans to have every adult vaccinated by May, and nearly four months into 2021, vaccines are finally rolling out to those 16-years-old and older. Now, brands are starting to get involved, encouraging consumers to get vaccines. In March, Krispy Kreme was one of the first to start the trend when they gave away free donuts to customers in the U.S. who showed their COVID-19 vaccination record card. Budweiser just started their own promotion offering free beer to vaccinated customers, pouring out free beer for the first 10,000 people who show they’ve gotten vaccinated, via a $5 virtual debit card to those who upload proof to their microsite. Google’s “Get back to what you love” spot, which encourages vaccine education and reminds viewers of all the things they can “get back to” once they can leave social distancing behind, has been viewed 9.9 million times since its release one month ago. 

Brands have good reasons to encourage vaccines—the sooner consumers go back to their pre-COVID routines, the sooner in-person shopping, entertainment, and more, can return as well. But what do young consumers actually think about brands getting involved in the vaccine conversation, or rewarding people who get vaccinated? We used our on-demand survey platform PULSE today to ask them—and find out the ways they’re open to brands talking about, or celebrating, vaccines . First up, we asked them directly “Do you think brands should be encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine?”

According to our on-demand PULSE survey, 62% of 16-34-year-olds say brands should indeed encourage people to get vaccinated, compared to 38% who think that brands should not get involved. While 38% is not a small number, it’s clear the majority of young consumers want brands to encourage vaccinations. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that young consumers want to see brands encouraging people to get the vaccine. Early last year, YPulse’s marketing during COVID-19 special report found that 84% of 13-39-year-olds believe brands just have as much responsibility as everyone else in helping to stop the spread of the virus, and a recent Harris poll, 60% of consumers think non-healthcare brands have an “obligation” to encourage people to get vaccinated. 

Also not a surprise: the respondents who want brands to encourage vaccinations are far more likely to be vaccinated or plan to themselves than those who want brands to not be involved. Specifically, 90% of respondents who want brands to encourage vaccines say they are planning to or have gotten the vaccine compared to just 35% of respondents who say they think brands should not be involved. Overall, when we asked respondents if they plan to get the vaccine, 49% of 16-34-year-olds surveyed reported that they have gotten one or both vaccine shots, and 24% say they plan to get it as soon as possible, leaving 27% who say they aren’t sure, or don’t plan to get the vaccine. 

But what’s the best way for brands to encourage vaccines? We asked those who want brands to be involved in the conversation what they think: 

Rewards and free stuff for customers are appreciated, but brands should know that the number one thing young consumers want them to do to encourage vaccinations is to start with their own employees. The top response was “Give employees time off to get vaccinated,” followed by “Reward employees for getting vaccinated.” Of course, Budweiser and Krispy Kreme’s promotions are also welcome: half (49%) want to see brands give away free stuff to those who have gotten it, while 44% want to give discounts to those who have gotten it.  

But brands should know there are a few things they’re less open to: events that only vaccinated people can attend, and hosting specials or concerts about vaccine awareness are last on the ranking.