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Publication Date

Fall 9-30-2022


Background: This study examined employer experience with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) asymptomatic testing through a social marketing lens. Social marketing uses commercial marketing principles to achieve socially beneficial ends including improved health and safety behavior. Method: Twenty employers across 11 occupational sectors were interviewed about implementation of COVID-19 testing from January through April 2021. Recorded transcripts were coded and analyzed using marketing's "Four P's": "product," "price," "place," "promotion." Results: COVID-19 tests (product) were uncomfortable, were easily confused, and didn't solve problems articulated by employers. Testing was not widely available or didn't line up with shifts or locations (place). The perceived price, which included direct and associated costs (e.g., laboratory fees, productivity loss, logistical challenges) was high. Most crucially, the time to receive (PCR) results negated the major benefit of less time spent in quarantine and challenged employer trust. A potential audience segmentation strategy based on perceptions of exposure risk also emerged. Conclusions: This social marketing analysis suggests ways to improve the value proposition for asymptomatic testing through changes in product, price, and placement features in line with employers' expressed needs. Study findings can also inform creation of employee communication materials that balance perceived rewards of testing against perceived risks of exposure.


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).

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