85% believed that corporations should create shareholder value in ways that align with society’s interests, even if that means sacrificing shareholder value
One way to build brand loyalty in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry is by forming and maintaining relationships based on trust. The 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveyed 5,075 people ages 25-64 in 23 countries, found that the best way to earn trust today is through action, transparency and engagement.
Although the study showed an overall increase in trust worldwide, the U.S. was the only country to see a decline across all four main sectors—business, government, media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
In 19 of the 23 countries surveyed, business was as or more trusted than the government. Trusting a business to do what is right dropped 8% in the U.S., which shifted the U.S. out of neutral and into the distruster category. For the first time, trust in NGOs was equal to business in developing countries, a rise in the last 5 years. In the U.S., trust in NGOs and the media decreased 8% and 11% respectively.
Technology took the lead as the most-trusted industry in both developed and developing countries, where banking and financial services were the least trusted. The pharmaceutical industry ranked 8 out of 16 industries at 63%.
How Trust is Earned
The top three factors to drive corporate reputation in 2011 include:
- High quality products and services
- If a company is perceived as trustworthy
- Transparent business practices
Additionally, in the U.S., 85% believed that corporations should create shareholder value in ways that align with society’s interests, even if that means sacrificing shareholder value.
Trust Can Protect Reputation
When a crisis hits, a company that is viewed as trustworthy will have an easier time protecting its reputation. According to the Trust Barometer, if a distrusted company goes into crisis, it only takes one or two negative stories for a person to believe negative news. However, when a trusted company goes into crisis, it takes one or two positive stories for the company to achieve belief. While it’s true that not every crisis can be averted, investing in trusted relationships can offer greater security in the long run.
The Impact of Online
Not surprisingly, the first place that people go for news about a company is online—first to search engines and then to news sources. With this in mind, creating search-optimized sites that engage users as they look for information is as important as ever. Although social media took last place in both categories, this percentage might increase in upcoming years as more and more companies start to use social to connect with target audiences in online communities.
What This Means for Pharma
Despite the ongoing distrust that a number of people have toward the pharmaceutical industry, pharma has an opportunity to move past pre-existing perceptions by aligning its business practices with those of the most-trusted companies. By investing in a strategy that brings value to both investors and society, committing to increased transparency or partnering with a trusted non-profit organization, pharma and biotech companies can strengthen their relationships, build their brand and work to protect their reputation in the future.
(Image courtesy of David Spender on Flickr.)