RESEARCH COMPANIES IN FOCUS
The “Edelman Trust Barometer Covid Special Report” was published on March 17, 2020, based on a representative survey given in 26 countries, including Germany. What makes this study so interesting is that it was conducted during the times of Covid-19, which is currently determining public discourse.
We took a closer look at what this study means for companies in pharmaceutical, biotech and health care and related industries. We have been advising these companies on marketing matters and implementing joint projects for over 25 years. We noticed that 83% of those surveyed stated that they most trusted the scientists who logically worked in research and development sectors such as pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical or health care companies. Trust in government officials (48%) and journalists (43%) is greatly trailing in trust.
We asked an expert on the matter, managing director Andrea Banic today how she sees the results of the study and what lessons she derives from it for Vision Concept and her customers.
Monika: Hi Andrea, the Edelman Trust Barometer Covid Special Report from March 2020 was recently published. It is striking that at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, 83% of those questioned stated that they trusted scientists far more than government officials (48%) and journalists (43%). How do you interpret this result for researching companies in the pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, agricultural and chemical industries as well as related industries?
“The pandemic has strengthened the reputation of the research industry”
Andrea: If you look at the Edelman Trust Barometer from October 2019 in comparison – from the time when we were not yet affected by the pandemic – you can see that the trust in scientists was comparable at 80%. Even if the 3% increase from March 2020 cannot be neglected, the pandemic has not caused any significant change in the relationship of trust with scientists. In short, the study says that the reputation of scientists is still very high in public opinion and the pandemic has only slightly reinforced this tendency.
Monika: So do you think that the research companies were not really affected by the pandemic?
“Research and development work has become the focus of public attention”
Andrea: I wouldn’t say that. The current pandemic has led to a more important change elsewhere. Research and development work has become the focus of public attention. This can be demonstrated by reports in not only the media and advertising, but also in social media. On the one hand, it is the troubled population who, are concerned about their health and have turned their attention to the pharmaceutical, biotech, health care or chemical companies and has an increased need for information. On the other hand, researching companies arouse the interest of investors, which is reflected in the rising share prices of these companies. Politicians and governments are also very specifically focused on companies that are involved in the value chain of Covid 19 research. For example, the German biotech startup Biontech received 120 million euros from China for its research work. The US government has allegedly taken a more aggressive approach and has tried to secure exclusive rights to the company CureVac.
The public interest can also be demonstrated in the Edelman Trust Barometer Covid Special Report. This is because 85% of those surveyed stated that they want to hear more information from scientists and less from politicians. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to pharmaceutical, biotech and health care companies currently receiving a lot of public attention. One could also speak of relevance, which ensures open ears by the public. That is the main change, in my opinion.
Monika: And what does that mean specifically for pharmaceutical, biotech, health care or chemical companies and their marketing strategies?
“THE PUBLIC DETERMINES THE RELEVANCE OF THEMES AND MESSAGES.”
Andrea: It is the combination of reputation and relevance that has essentially changed as a result of the pandemic. This combination creates the best prerequisites for effectively addressing marketing messages. Because it is obvious: If I publicly, enjoy a strong reputation, but my work is hardly relevant to the public, I can not apply my marketing messages particularly effectively. This works the other way around as well. This finely adjusted combination and the timing make the marketing at Vision Concept successful. When we implement marketing projects, it is important to present and strengthen the reputation of a company in terms of content and visuals. Reputation is strengthened by the selection of suitable topics, their creative preparation and addressing to the relevant target groups through the selection of suitable channels.
Monika: That sounds very simple and plausible in theory. Can you please clarify this further? What does this mean for the people who work in the marketing department of pharmaceutical, biotech, health care or chemical companies? What is your recommendation? Should you distribute your marketing budget right now, because the year is just entering the second quarter?
“DO NOT BECOME A DEER IN HEADLIGHTS”
Andrea: It is logical and correct that the budget is handled carefully in times of crisis. But we should concentrate on actively designing crises, managing them properly before we fall into a kind of “deer in headlights” scenario. Of course, we must not lose sight of the risks, but it is better to focus our attention on the opportunities that we can discover and take advantage of. Crises create new conditions and bring new opportunities with them. They are responsible for the revolution and reorganization of the market. A banal example is the current demand for hygiene articles… (she laughs). Companies and entire industries can take advantage of the market upheaval to reposition themselves.
Monika: You talk about opportunities in terms of crises. Where do you see the opportunities? And what can specialized advertising agencies like Vision Concept do?
“Data-driven approaches in cross-functional teams”
Andrea: I cannot make an individual recommendation for every company. You have to look at this in detail to set up the right strategy. As I mentioned at the beginning, the current combination of reputation and relevance creates good conditions for addressing marketing messages. I recommend identifying topics, solutions or products that are the focus of attention due to the crisis. The target group can be the general public or the consumer, but politics, investors or funding agencies can also be targeted. This work should initially be done in a cross-functional team within the company. Depending on the company structure and size, it can be responsible for product management, sales, marketing, innovation / research and strategy. Because of their external perspective, advertising agencies can make a valuable contribution to the evaluation of these topics. The data-based approach is also very important. Data from market research or social media monitoring provide exactly the right starting points here.
If we take a very concrete look at the pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, agricultural or chemical companies, we very often have to deal with complex products and topics that require explanation. This places very special demands on the communication between customer and agency. In addition to the fast and smooth processing, a special understanding of the topics and content is of great importance. Specialized agencies, such as Vision Concept bring precisely this relevant industry expertise and experience. That is why they are able to quickly understand complex, specific facts and to represent and transport them in a simplified way.
Monika: Cross-media is a good keyword, especially many B2B companies from the above-mentioned industries benefit from personal contacts and especially from trade fair appearances, congresses and other on-site events to present their innovations and research results. Due to the measures to contain the pandemic, many trade fairs were canceled. What do you recommend to these companies?
“We believe in the use of innovative solutions like augmented reality and mixed reality”
Andrea: Clearly, communication has to shift to the digital space. Many companies used video calls before the pandemic. Wherever possible, communication should be changed accordingly. This is not only associated with disadvantages. Here, too, one should look at the opportunities. At Vision Concept, we believe in the use of innovative solutions such as augmented reality and mixed reality, which enable users not only to make complex products and innovations understandable, but also to make them multidimensional.
We are currently working on the use of AR / MR in the areas of e-learning, indoor navigation (which is also suitable for navigation in trade fair buildings) and product presentations. Through the use of AR and MR, users are able to bring complicated, oversized / under-dimensional products, abstract phenomena to their premises, to experience them responsively, to scale or to enhance them with interactive information. AR / MR technology is not only able to compensate for the loss of trade fairs and events in times of crisis, but also opens up completely new possibilities for presenting and explaining.
Monika: Can you explain how Vision Concept has adjusted to the crisis?
“We are launching our #ScienceMoves campaign”
Andrea: First of all, we took all precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. We have shifted the major part of our communication to digital channels and can operate both from our home office and from our office. For meetings with customers, we are now increasingly using Microsoft teams and other collaboration solutions.
In addition, we are launching our #ScienceMoves campaign to highlight the importance of the research industry and to seek dialogue with pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, chemical and agricultural companies. As part of our campaign, we want to work with our customers to consider which opportunities can be identified and used. Our consultants proactively engage in discussions with customers.
Monika: Thank you, Andrea. Our readers are also welcome to enter into a proactive dialogue with us. For questions and further information please fill out our contact form or write us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org