May 20, 2021


by Aalastair Sibley in News

What You’ll Learn in This Episode: 

  • Why reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine vary so widely from country to country 
  • The implications of the pandemic on the future of health, the medical community and brands 
  • What consumers expect of brands post-pandemic and how brands can accommodate those expectations 

How is it that the COVID-19 vaccine, in the midst of its historic global rollout, is being met with such a staggering range of reactions?  

Marianne Hurstel, chief strategy officer for BETC Paris, tackles this topic in a roundtable segment with podcast host Linda Descano, CFA®, EVP of corporate communications and executive visibility at Red Havas. Marianne co-authored Havas Group’s new Prosumer Report, “Health and Hygiene in the Post-COVID-19 Era,” which springs from a massive study of Prosumers that Havas fielded at the beginning of 2021, drawing on reactions to the current global health crisis from more than 15,000 participants across 31 markets. The report tracks variances in attitudes to the vaccine by country and culture and analyzes what the aftermath of the pandemic can be expected to mean for healthcare, the medical community, and brands.  

What are Prosumers? Havas identifies them as the leading-edge 15-20% of consumers, usually 6-18 months ahead of the mainstream, forward thinking, influential, proactive and socially and/or environmentally conscious. Often the best indicator of what’s to come for brands and businesses around the world, Prosumers are certainly worth paying attention to.  

As Linda and Marianne explore together, trust in science, scientists, and government authorities has become a critical component of mitigation efforts in the age of pandemic. While most global Prosumers expressed faith in the COVID-19 vaccines available at the time of the study, nearly two-thirds of those in the Czech Republic and around half of Prosumers in France and Belgium did not. Among Prosumers who don’t trust the vaccines, the vast majority (83%) worry that the development process was “too rushed,” while—more worryingly—around a third simply don’t trust the people and institutions promoting the vaccines. 

Marianne explains, “Trust is one of the things that is key in the way people will get vaccinated. When we looked a bit deeper, we saw that the level of distrust was really linked not only to the rushed elaboration process of the vaccine, but to a deeper distrust in the institutions that promote the vaccine.”  

When Linda goes on to ask what the relationship between hygiene and health will be like going forward, Marianne says, “COVID, for 83% of Prosumers, heightened our awareness and aversion to germs. Now we see [germs] more or less everywhere, on every surface, on clothes, in the air. If someone starts coughing in the subway, everyone looks at him like if he was a terrorist.”  

The Prosumer study also found that, post-COVID, more people will pay attention to keeping a clean home and to the cleanliness of bathroom stalls, restaurants, and public transportation, as far more people now correlate cleanliness with health. The implications of this on everything from the market for germ-killing products to pharma companies to healthcare systems will be profound.  

For our Red Questionnaire segment, which asks a different industry leader the same set of questions each month, Shailo Rasanayakam, integrated senior account manager, global clients, for Red Havas U.K., picks the brain of Rachael Sansom, managing director at Red Havas U.K. A comms leader and brand reputation expert in the U.K. with over 20 years’ experience, Rachael has experience leading agencies as well as working in-house for leading brands such as Motorola and Random House. She is confirmed as judge at the Cannes Lion creative awards this year and has been included for the second year running in the PRWeek Power Book.  

With Shailo, Rachael discusses everything from her favorite interior design Instagram account to the fate of TikTok (“I think a lot of brands are very nervous about TikTok; however, those that have embraced it have really shown how powerful it can be”) to her perspective on life after the pandemic. “My key message to everybody is just live your life,” says Rachael. “If COVID has taught us one thing it’s that life can be very short. It’s important that we all get the most out of, frankly, the lovely texture that is life moving forward.” 

Give “Red Sky Fuel for Thought” a listen, and subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app. Don’t forget to rate and review to help more people find us!