Geek looking at data


Identifying and Targeting Vaccine-Hesitancy in Your Jurisdiction

Jul 18, 2021, 07:55 PM by Nader Shureih
See how EA data can be used to identify populations exhibiting vaccine-hesitant behaviour and better understand how to communicate with these groups


Canada’s vaccine roll-out is a shared focus across private and public sector interests. While there are a lot of COVID-19 related data available, Environics Analytics has done the work of weighting and modelling these data down to the postal code level. By linking COVID-19 vaccine data to other databases within the Environics Analytics ecosystem, marketers and analysts can infer how Canadians are likely to respond to vaccination campaign efforts. The sample analysis below demonstrates what this might look like.

We chose to look at the municipality of Ottawa to understand populations exhibiting vaccine-hesitant behaviours and to determine the best ways to connect with these groups. The process helped to identify and personify populations who are vaccine-hesitant, or vaccine-unsure and dig deeper into those groups to understand their behavioural drivers. To do this, we connected vaccine data from our new VaccineInsights database to demographic, psychographic, media, business and PRIZM segmentation data.


Vaccine-Confidence and Vaccine-Hesitancy in Canada

  • 67% of Canadians agree that vaccines are safe
  • 16% of Canadians are unsure about getting vaccinated
  • 12% of Canadians are opposed to getting vaccinated

Source: ©2021 Environics Analytics, Caddle Inc and AskingCanadians™ (by Delvinia) in collaboration with BEworks Inc

As the vaccine roll-out gained traction earlier this year, our data showed that almost one-third of the Canadian population was hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. These numbers come from our VaccineInsights dataset, which incorporates data from very recent surveys about intention and decision drivers regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. 


Use Case: A Closer Look at Vaccine-Hesitancy in Ottawa

It is not possible to paint all Canadians exhibiting vaccine-hesitancy with the same brush. In order to support Canada’s vaccination efforts, we must first understand the drivers behind the hesitation in these population groups and what motivates the behaviour. From there, we can tailor the messaging to address the specific concerns of these citizens and optimize the placement of these communications to areas that these populations are likely to encounter. 

To demonstrate this, we used lifestyle segmentation, demographic, psychographic, media and behavioural data points to take a closer look at a single municipality, identify hesitant populations and understand the factors that influence their behaviour. To start, we created a profile of the Ottawa CMA using the VaccineInsights database and identified PRIZM segments likely to express vaccine-hesitancy. 


Vaccine-Hesitant Populations in Ottawa

Pictured above: A profile of the Ottawa CMA using VaccineInsights data. The PRIZM segments represent groups more likely to express vaccine-hesitancy. The map outlines parts of the city where these residents live. The darker the area, the more concentrated these segments are.


Two Groups, Two Views 

We then split the PRIZM segments likely to express vaccine-hesitancy into two optimized groupings or micro-clusters based on shared demographic characteristics like lifestage and household type.


PRIZM Segment 08 Multiculture-ish   PRIZM Segment 11 Modern Suburbia  PRIZM-18  PRIZM-19

Hesitant Suburban Families

  • 73,176 Households
  • Population: 225,200
  • Young children at home
  • $141,825 Household Income
  • Drivers
  • Visible minority: South Asian, Chinese
  • Hesitancy Drivers: Belief in Conspiracy Theories


PRIZM Segment 51 On Their Own Again PRIZM-52 PRIZM-64 PRIZM-61

Undecided Urban Renters

  • 73,445 Households
  • Population: 144,900
  • Singles and Couples
  • $74,501 Household Income
  • Public Transit
  • Visible minority: Black, Arab
  • Hesitancy Drivers: Belief in Conspiracy Theories, Valuing Personal Beliefs Over Empirical Evidence


By linking demographic data to PRIZM segmentation, we can further understand the household size, how they get around (means of transportation) and diversity characteristics.

In mid-March 2021, when these reports were pulled, we saw that one group was made up of suburban families and one group was made up of urban singles and couples who were primarily renters. It is important to note the difference in household size. There were more urban renter households, but a smaller population on average within each dwelling compared to the suburban group. 

Some other key differences began to emerge:

  • Over 26% of suburban families exhibited vaccine-hesitancy. This represents about 19,000 households or 58,000 people.
  • 31% of the urban renter group exhibited vaccine-hesitancy. That represents about 23,000 households or 45,000 people.

The VaccineInsights dataset provides insight into the drivers behind vaccine hesitation. There are four key cognitive factors to consider:

  • Valuing Personal Beliefs vs. Empirical Evidence - How likely people are to go with their gut instinct versus scientific evidence.
  • Scientific Knowledge - Assessed knowledge of scientific principles.
  • Belief in Conspiracy Theories -  How open people are to conspiracy theories.
  • Understanding concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Each group indicated a pervasive openness to the idea that the pandemic is some sort of conspiracy. There was an additional dimension in the urban renter group, which is the struggle to reconcile what they believe to be true against the empirical evidence they are presented with. 

The SocialValues dataset offered key psychographic information to understand the underlying motivators that drive behaviour and decision-making. These insights form the basis for messaging to these groups. For the suburban group, values about Confidence in Advertising and the Primacy of the Family stand out. Given that this group has a higher rate of young children at home, crafting messaging to reflect the importance of vaccination to keep kids and their families safe could resonate with this group. For the urban renter group, their Joy of Consumption – or love for shopping – is a key messaging tactic to leverage. Get vaccinated so that we can re-open the malls!




Selecting the Right Ad Placement for Your Message

Our earlier analysis indicated that suburban families tend to drive cars and that urban renters frequently use public transit. Knowing where these population groups are on the ground can help to determine ad placement, including which bus shelters or bus routes to target and where to focus any social media or community paper advertising. In our Ottawa example, advertising on the outside of the OC Transpo bus would be beneficial to target suburban families. Adspace on the inside of the bus would be beneficial to target the urban renters. Recognizing that public sector organizations need to communicate with their entire jurisdictions, this messaging can happen in line with mass messaging that reaches out to your entire population of interest. The two are not mutually exclusive. 


Supporting Canada's Vaccination Efforts

Our customers know the value of segmenting and personifying population groups to support business and marketing efforts. The same approach is applicable to understand the attitudes and beliefs of Canadians about the COVID-19 pandemic. Public sector organizations can use these insights to inform their communication strategy and support vaccination efforts and economic re-opening.

For more information about this use case or how to use our data to better understand population groups, please get in touch.



Related Content

Where Do We Need to Build Confidence in Vaccines? A Data and Analytics Approach

Data and Analytics for the Public Sector

The Impact of COVID-19 on Population, Employment, Social and Economic Trends in Canada

Environics Analytics Captures a Variety of COVID-19 Related Data


About Nader Shureih

With over 20 years of experience as a marketer, market research professional and academic, Nader helps local, provincial and federal departments and agencies better understand, serve and communicate with their constituents.