The pharma industry often faces criticism, for example the accusation that medicines are only available at excessive prices that lead to increasing healthcare costs. At the same time, the industry is also making large investments in research and development in order to provide the population with better healthcare. The question is: what does the general public really think of the pharma industry?

Global Pharma RepTrak® 2017

In the first quarter of 2017, the Reputation Institute conducted a survey in which it asked 16,800 people in eight different countries to share their perception of 17 different pharma companies. These figures make Pharma RepTrak® the largest study on the reputation of pharma companies worldwide.

An overview of the most important results from this year’s survey:

  • The pharma industry has a strong reputation.
  • In fact, 15 of the 17 companies analysed were deemed to have a strong reputation.
  • The three companies with the strongest reputation are AbbVie, Novo Nordisk and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. The three companies with the weakest reputation are Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis.
  • The industry is still lagging behind in the categories of “Governance” (a company’s ethical action, for example its fairness) and “Citizenship” (a company’s social commitment).
  • The millennials gave the reputation of pharma companies the worst rating, followed by 45 to 64-year-olds and 25 to 34-year-olds. 35 to 44-year-olds, on the other hand, have the most positive perception of the pharma industry.
  • The perception of the pharma industry is the most negative in France, Spain and Canada. While the perception of the industry is average in Italy, Brazil, Germany and Great Britain, survey participants in the USA gave the most positive ratings with regard to the reputation of the pharma companies concerned.

Source: Slide 10 of the “Global Pharma RepTrak® 2017” webinar, 31st May 2017

The survey also asked participants about the main focuses often associated with the pharma industry, namely “improving treatment options”, “patient safety” and “pricing”: 56.8% of the survey participants agreed that the pharma industry is improving treatment options and 51.9% agreed that the pharma industry is committed to ensuring the safety of patients. When it came to the question of whether the pharma industry offers fair prices, however, only 42.1% agreed that this is the case, while 43.9% gave a neutral response.

A good reputation increases support among target groups.

But why does a company actually need a good reputation in the first place? Is it not enough for it to make a profit and successfully sell its products? Reputation is an emotional connection that enables a company to secure the support of its target groups. Target groups who have a positive perception of a company are more willing to buy that company’s products, to work for it or even to invest in it. A positive perception also makes target groups more likely to recommend the company to others. Last but not least, a company’s positive reputation gives it the “benefit of the doubt”, namely an additional vote of confidence in the case of a crisis. According to the survey, between 48% and 52% of participants would give the top-rated company this vote of confidence, which is approx. 10% more than would do the same for the worst-rated company. As these figures show, a company’s reputation not only helps it to achieve its sales target but also to prepare for more difficult times.

Source: Slide 23 of the “Global Pharma RepTrak® 2017” webinar, 31st May 2017

In conclusion: communication supports a strong reputation.

The Reputation Institute has been conducting an annual study on the reputation of pharma companies since 2014 and every year, the perceived perception of these companies has improved. This year, the Reputation Institute even rated the reputation of the industry as strong for the first time. Despite this positive development, the familiarity of the survey participants with the pharma industry is generally rather low. If pharma companies can succeed in increasing this level of familiarity among the general public, they can also improve their perceived reputation.

Source: Slide 29 of the “Global Pharma RepTrak® 2017” webinar, 31st May 2017

The pharma industry is also lagging behind other industries when it comes to the aspect of “frequent communication”. The survey participants do not believe that pharma companies make an effort to contact them on a frequent basis. It can therefore be said that companies would benefit from increased efforts to communicate with their target groups.

Switzerland was not considered in this study. Given the positive impact of domestic companies such as Novartis and Roche and their importance for the national economy, it can, however, be assumed that pharmaceutical companies here would achieve results that are equally positive, if not better.

The report can be downloaded here.