Anyone who has received a Covid vaccine can go to the participating Krispy Kreme store and receive a free glazed donut. That’s not just a free donut – it’s a free donut per day for the rest of 2021. If you start today and get your donut every day, that’s a total of 281 donuts.
Krispy Kreme’s move is just the latest in a series of incentives companies are offering customers and / or employees to encourage them to get the vaccine. There’s a reason so many companies are doing this: it’s a very smart move in business. First of all, all companies have a simple, universal advantage: the sooner the majority of the population is vaccinated, the sooner companies can reopen their full capacity and go back to full operation. There’s the obvious marketing advantage: people who come in for their free donut are likely to buy something else too, and some of them may have never tried Krispy Kreme before.
Research shows that this isn’t just an incentive that may work. Jon Bogard, a UCLA student who worked on a study of people’s motivation to vaccinate, found that offering big incentives could backfire because people might think the vaccines are risky if paid too much would to take them. Instead, he proposed “low personal worth, high social worth” incentives such as: B. the stickers with the inscription “Protected” or with a preferred team logo. A free donut can also provide a high social value incentive and give boastful rights. It can also serve as a small daily reward that many people would enjoy but would not buy for themselves.
Following the Krispy Kreme announcement, some doctors and other health professionals reprimanded the company on Twitter, noting that adding a donut to your usual diet every day could lead to weight gain. They feared the chain’s customers might not know that donuts are not a particularly healthy food. I think most people know this, but it might be a bad idea to have a donut every day for nine months and six days, especially if you don’t cut back on other sweets to make up for it.
Free yogurt, free beer, free marijuana.
Krispy Kreme is not alone. Many companies offer vaccine incentives to their customers. Cleveland Cinemas, Ohio, is offering free popcorn at two locations to anyone who presents a vaccination card by April. Also in Cleveland, a local brewery is serving free beer to the first 2,021 customers with proof of vaccination. And a medical marijuana dispensary is giving a free pre-rolled joint to over 21s who have been vaccinated and who qualify for medical marijuana this month. Chobani is handing out free yogurt at some vaccination sites, and Uber is offering free trips to vaccination sites for seniors and frontline workers.
Many small businesses offer their employees vaccination incentives, including cash, extra time off, and paying for childcare so parents can get vaccinated. However, they may not have considered the benefits of goodwill, marketing, and publicity that they could get by offering rewards to customers who have also received vaccines.
If you decide to offer vaccine incentives to customers, keep in mind that some people may not or may not be able to get the vaccine because of religious objections, health issues, or because vaccines are not yet available to them. It is important not to offend or belittle the unvaccinated. Krispy Kreme cleverly avoided this by offering a free donut along with a medium brewed coffee to anyone who comes into a store Monday through May 24th, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not. (Does that mean people with vaccination cards get two donuts on Mondays? The company didn’t say that.)
One last thing: Staples has announced that they will be laminating vaccination cards for free until May 1st. Before accepting this offer, be sure to test all of the stickers on your card by scratching them with your fingernail to see if they turn black. All that do are thermal stickers that could be damaged by the heat of the lamination.
If it doesn’t harm your vaccination card, it is probably a very good idea to have it laminated. It looks like you’re pulling it out to get quite a bit of free stuff in the months to come.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.