April 1, 2011 3 Comments
In march 2011, Augure and consulting company BearingPoint held a joint event to present reputation challenges and solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. The slides are presented in French below, but further analysis and context follows:
What does corporate reputation mean?
First discussed is what the term reputation actually means. While the term has received more coverage in recent years, this has often been at the expense of exactitude.
A company’s reputation is the sum of perceptions of its stakeholders. Pragmatically, differences in reputations will create tangible differences in stakeholder reactions to a same event. Which is why identifying local stakeholder issues and mapping them into a global framework is so important to business success.
Since the global financial crisis, top reputation drivers have changed from financially ones to trust and other ethical considerations such as “High quality products, Transparent practises, Company that can be trusted, Company that treats employees well”. Profit has generally been replaced by Profit with a purpose.
Reputation in the pharmaceutical industry
Two specificities of the pharmaceutical industry make corporate reputation management complex:
- First, global reputation is average but a very mixed bag. On a global scale, the pharmaceutical industry sits right in the middle of a list spearheaded by the technology and automotive industries and their promise of innovation and escape from the recession and ended by banks and financial services. But this averaged value sees strong variation across the globe:
- In the US, according to Edelman’s 2011 Trust Barometer, the pharma industry has very low score and trails behind all other industries except banking & finance. And in a Harris survey of December 2010, US adults place it in the list of industry most in need of regulation, with only 11% of respondents truly trusting it.
- In Asia, trust in institutions is very high in China, but lower in other markets. More than in any other continent, there is vast variation between individual markets. Trust in and use of media is also very different, with traditional media held in high esteem wherever free media has not yet emerged and very strongly distrusted in others. One major common aspect is very high trust in NGOs, making engagement essential and very local.
- In Europe trust in pharma companies lies midway between the two previous continents but trust in NGOs is also very high.
- As described in the slides, consumers can interact freely to exchange experiences but communications from pharmaceutical companies is heavily policed.
Monitoring and engagement to manage online reputation
A consequence of the above is that engagement with stakeholders must be performed on a very local level to understand the material issues of each community: tailored medication, market access, reimbursement and vaccination will not have the same resonance in all markets or communities.
Monitoring is equally essential to understand online opinion and segment it into markets, communities and media types. Health related topics are in the top three searches on Google. And even through traditional media are still the leading source of influence in China and Indonesia, search engines, online news and social media are catching up fast.
In spite of this, there is very little pharmaceutical presence on social network, through which to engage with the public. Hubspot research has shown that the vast majority of social media discussions about pharmaceutical companies are happening on Linkedin. But that is a professional network dedicated to B2B marketing and networking.
In Consumers Don’t Trust Pharma, So What Can We Do?, Eileen O’Brien writes:
pharmaceutical companies and brands will have to do the hard work of regaining the trust of consumers one by one
That task will necessarily be achieved through global stakeholder engagement and monitoring.