Incentive Programs Can Drive Covid-19 Vaccine Adoption, Research Finds

A new study from Blackhawk Network concludes that prepaid gift cards and monetary rewards can be very effective in encouraging a group to get vaccinated.

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As Covid-19 vaccines are gradually rolled out across the country and around the globe, incentive programs can be a valuable tool for organizations seeking to encourage widespread inoculation. According to new research from gift card and branded payment firm Blackhawk Network, incentives such as prepaid gift cards and monetary awards can help drive members or employees to get vaccinated.

The findings are based on a pair of online surveys — one that focused on government incentives and another on employer incentives — each of which drew responses from more than 1,000 adults in the U.S. More than a third of respondents (35.5 percent) said that receiving an incentive or monetary award from a government entity or employer would increase the likelihood they would get a Covid-19 vaccine sooner than they had planned. An additional 24.2 percent said it would depend on the incentive.

As for what type of incentive would motivate them most, monetary awards was by far the most popular choice — cited by 53.4 percent of respondents between the two surveys. Paid time off work was the second most popular response (15.7 percent), followed by a discount on their health insurance premium (8.3 percent) and points similar to a credit card award program (3.6 percent). The remaining 19 percent cited “other” when it came to which incentive would be most effective.

For those who preferred to receive that monetary award, gift cards were a popular form in which to receive it, with 16.7 percent of respondents citing physical cards and 6.9 percent preferring digital cards. The majority of respondents (68.5 percent) preferred to receive their monetary award in the form of a direct deposit to their bank account.

Talbott Roche, CEO and president of Blackhawk Network, said that this preference for gift cards from about one-quarter of respondents may be due in part to the fact that many Americans are "unbanked or underbanked," making this form of payment the simplest option.

"Just in the last few months, we’ve seen forms of branded payments like gift cards used by nonprofits to distribute relief, by the government for stimulus payments, by employers to increase rewards and recognition, and by retailers who are embracing contactless payments. It's no stretch that vaccine incentives are next on the list," added Roche. "By providing Americans with funds they can spend via multiple channels, businesses and the government are encouraging them to spend with local, regional and national merchants — pumping money back into our economy while simultaneously driving behavior."