While it’s yet unknown if or when vaccinated individuals will be able to resume their daily activities mask-free, there are some benefits to being identifiably inoculated. After a year in which shaking hands, hugging, and even breathing too close to another person in public became egregious faux pas, many are looking to avoid judgment as they transition back to conventional social mores.
But how to communicate your relative safety as a vaccine recipient? Travel authorities have floated vaccine passports, digital health certificates that could be conjured through a QR code on your smartphone. But this poses a logistical challenge—small print, phone battery life, and the questionable optics of flashing one’s screen at every passerby make this a less-than-ideal solution for casual outings.
Fortunately, Amazon sellers know just the thing: graphic tees, pins, hats, and masks bearing the simple phrase, “I’m vaccinated.”
“I’m vaccinated” gear is wildly popular on Amazon
Amazon is a thriving market for graphic tees, novelty hats, and other slogan-bearing gear, thanks in part to its Merch program. With Amazon Merch, sellers can hawk their designs at minimal up-front cost—they simply upload their artwork to Amazon, choose a vehicle to display it (such as a t-shirt or hoodie), and wait for orders to roll in. Once a purchase is made, Amazon prints the item on-demand and ships it to the customer.
The latest trend in Merch listings? Graphic tees assuring strangers, “don’t worry, I’m vaccinated.”
There’s a tee for every flavor of vaccine PSA, from the festive (like this shamrock-studded, “Kiss me, I’m vaccinated” number), to the defiant (“Educated. Motivated. Vaccinated.”), to the persistently socially-avoidant (“I still want some of you to stay away from me”).
In addition to Merch tees, plenty of sellers are now listing hats, masks, bracelets, and other items bearing similar messages, including a syringe-shaped enamel pin reading “Thanks, science.”
Like an “I Voted” sticker, an “I got my COVID-19 vaccine” pin signals the wearer’s social responsibility at a time when loudly proclaiming one’s immunity is inappropriate and potentially unsafe.
Since January 2021, COVID-19 vaccine-related keywords have received thousands of searches—as many as 2,606 for “vaccinated tshirt.” This search term has shot up 433% in the past 30 days.
- A punchy pink t-shirt featuring Rosie the Riveter declaring “I got vaccinated!” was first listed on February 7, 2021 and has already sold hundreds of times.
- Searches for “covid vaccinated pin” and “vaccinated mask” are up 695% and 304%, respectively, in the past 30 days.
- Monthly sales of this listing for a 10-pack of COVID-vaccinated pins jumped 419% since January.
- This lacquered “COVID-19 VACCINATED” pin has sold 608 units in the past month, earning its seller $5,746 in revenue.
Wearing “I’m vaccinated” clothing as extra protection
As the U.S. appears to enter a recovery phase from COVID-19, it’s easy to understand why the demand for “vaccinated” gear is so fervent. Decentralized messaging, inconsistent policies, and general confusion about the proper response to the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020 led to over a year of widespread social awkwardness and caustic judgment. Previously acceptable behavior like dining indoors, shopping in busy stores, and attending crowded events like concerts and movie screenings was suddenly unsafe—and instantly became irresistible fodder for public shaming, both in person and on social media.
Previously acceptable behavior like dining indoors became fodder for public shaming.
Now, as people become more comfortable resuming their public activities, they’re looking for a shield from public outcries—some proactive social defense against others’ assumptions about safety.
Consumers who are now willing to venture out to restaurants or shopping centers—because of the lower health risk they’re exposed to after being vaccinated—may feel more comfortable if they can clarify through their clothing that they’ve received the vaccine.
While t-shirts, masks, or pins won’t provide a safeguard against every concerned citizen, they could help deter judgment from most—as well as offer an optimistic reminder that safer times are coming.
“Vaccinated” gear is a profitable niche for sellers
Upward-trending sales for “vaccinated” gear make it a profitable—if time-sensitive—niche for Amazon sellers.
As the unofficial merch retailers of newsworthy events and viral memes, sellers who can quickly jump into a trending niche with their own competitive listing stand to make huge profits. We’ve seen this before—or rather, witnessed a missed opportunity to reap flash-in-the-pan riches.
Demand for “Baby Yoda” merch exploded in the wake of Disney’s debut of the Star Wars spinoff show “The Mandalorian.” As keyword searches for “baby yoda” products reached nearly 3,000 per day in December 2019, Disney missed out on an estimated $2.7 million in sales of little green plushies on Amazon. Today, over a year since the initial craze for Mandalorian merch, the official Star Wars-licensed baby yoda plush brings in an average of $360,000 in monthly sales on Amazon.
Currently, Jungle Scout’s Opportunity Finder denotes keywords like “I’m vaccinated pin” as having medium demand and low competition. That means there’s still time for sellers to capture consumer interest in vaccine-emblazoned products before listing saturation wipes out its lucrativeness for all but the top-performing products.
Consumer data indicate that Americans are ready to get back to normal life, and the majority (60%) would accept an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. Of those consumers willing to be vaccinated, 61% are shopping at least once a week on Amazon—a captive audience for vaccine merch if there ever was one.
As the U.S. expands its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, we can expect more “I’m vaccinated” merch to crop up. Whether the vaccinated crowd will adopt it en masse remains to be seen—though product sales are only going up for now.