Most consumers (71%) report they are either willing to receive the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as they’re able (52%) or a few months after it becomes available (19%), according to Gartner.

However, the Gartner Consumer Community Survey, which gathered findings from November and December 2020 and again in January 2021, showed a majority of consumers 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 polarisation, 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.”

Just 50% 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% of consumers that 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%.”

Brands and marketers looking to either tap into the Covid-19 vaccine conversation or plan for a return to “business as usual” should consider the following:

* Leverage Trust Experts: Thorough, digestible vaccine-related communication from trusted experts will remain paramount throughout at least the first half of 2021.

* Scenario Plan Vigilantly: Consumers will accept both the vaccine and a return to normal life at a varied, and perhaps slower-than-expected, pace. Marketers should scenario-plan accordingly.

* Safety Protocols Remain Paramount: The enforcement of pandemic-related safety protocols, such as face masks and social distancing guidelines, will be important for the foreseeable future.