Edelman Trust Study Released

March 12, 2008
Pharmaceutical Executive
Volume 0, Issue 0

Pharma is still having a hard time earning the confidence of the key opinion elite, as only 56 percent claim they trust the industry.

Edelman released its annual Trust Barometer last week, documenting how much faith key opinion leaders have in different industry sectors. Pharma didn't fare too well; only 56 percent of the global opinion elite said they trusted the industry. Healthcare and biotech/life sciences, on the other hand, scored a little better with 61 percent and 65 percent, respectively. The most trusted industry? Technology, which was trusted by 77 percent of respondents.

"Biotech, technology, and healthcare industries [are seen as being more] communicative about the world we live in, the future of that world, and the role that they are playing in improving that world," said Nancy Turett, president and global director at Edelman, Health. "Companies that are forward looking and show vision are more trusted."

Global TrustSome key insights from the study:

  • Pharma is most trusted in India, where 77 percent of respondents said they trusted the industry. (The equivalent figure in the United States was 54 percent.) Industry clearly has some work to do in Germany, were only 29 percent of the interviewees said they trust pharma.
  • Trust in pharma was flat in the United States from last year, but gained about five percent globally. The rise in trust was attributed to emerging markets overseas. According to the study, there is more trust in pharma in countries where the industry is an economic engine for improvement and social betterment, such as India, Brazil, Mexico, and China?the four countries where pharma was most trusted.
  • One of the most interesting findings has to do with who's talking about companies. In the past, disgruntled customers were more likely to go online to communicate their opinions than happy customers. Among opinion leaders, at least, that seems to have changed. In the survey, 52 percent said they would share their experiences of companies they trust, compared with 50 percent who said they would share opinions of a company they didn't trust.

"Today, you get an even greater payoff from people who have trust in pharma, because they are more likely to take positive action, including buying products, recommending the company to local community plans, and blogging about the company on forums," said Laurence Evans, president of StrategyOne.

Who Do You Trust?Much like last year, 60 percent of respondents said that they would prefer that a company spokesperson be someone more like themselves or someone they could relate to. A financial or industry analyst was listed second (56 percent), and an academic was listed as the third most-credible type of spokesperson (54 percent).

Nonetheless, it is still the quality of products and services that earns trust. In the study, quality, customer service, and corporate reputation topped the list of factors building trust. Reputation even beat out value for the money and social and environmental track record.

According to Edelman, opinion elites are people who are college educated, in the top 25 percent household income per age group, and are attuned with news and public policy. The firm said that it is looking at doing second trust study incorporating a wider segment of the population.