Thought Leadership

5 Ways Pharma Brands Can Build Consumer Trust & Drive Deeper Engagement with Patients

May 2, 2024

Trust is top of mind everywhere we turn with our life science clients across commercial, strategy, corporate, regulatory, market access, and medical affair teams. Escalent has a deep legacy of helping pharma companies design and execute parent brand strategy efforts that are bigger than one medicine, and at the core of many of these studies is an emphasis on trust.

More than ever, manufacturers are working harder to unify and amplify their parent brand so the public knows them for more than just the medicines they make. Manufacturers recognize the power of telling a more complete brand story to build stronger customer relationships that lead to greater trust in a way that no singular medicine can do. As we all know by now, trust is an essential element in any sector, but in the pharmaceutical industry, it carries profound implications for the well-being of individuals and society at large.

In pharma today, trust is incredibly hard to gain, alarmingly quick to lose and is a force that creates more harm (if lost) than good (if won). As advancements in medicine continue to accelerate and drugs make it to market faster than ever, the pharmaceutical industry is poised to shape the future of healthcare. However, to navigate the complexity and pace the industry is moving at, fostering trust must become a cornerstone of the industry’s ethos.

The question is: Can pharma flip the cultural narrative away from perceptions of distrust and greed?

We believe so. Here’s how:

  1. Ensuring Patient Safety: Trust is the bedrock of relationships between patients and pharmaceutical companies. Patients rely on pharmaceutical products to alleviate suffering, improve their quality of life and save lives. Therefore, it is crucial for the industry to demonstrate unwavering commitment to patient safety especially as the public watches drugs come to market with remarkable speed. By upholding rigorous standards for drug testing, manufacturing and regulatory compliance, pharmaceutical companies can foster trust among patients, assuring them that their well-being remains the top priority.
  2. Transparency and Ethical Practices: In recent years, public scrutiny of the pharmaceutical industry has intensified, calling attention to issues such as pricing, marketing practices and conflicts of interest. To restore and enhance trust, transparency is essential. By openly communicating about drug pricing, research and development costs, and the basis for pricing decisions, pharmaceutical companies can improve their credibility and address concerns related to affordability and access. Moreover, embracing ethical practices, including responsible marketing and collaborations, will reinforce trustworthiness and build stronger relationships with patients and the wider community.
  3. Embracing Open Science and Collaboration: The future of pharma and health innovation lies in collaboration and open science. By sharing research findings, clinical trial data and promoting access to scientific literature, pharmaceutical brands can foster a culture of trust and collaboration. This openness not only enhances scientific progress but also bolsters public confidence in the industry’s commitment to advancing healthcare. Collaboration with healthcare providers, researchers, and patient advocacy groups also encourages a more holistic approach to drug development, ensuring that patient needs remain at the forefront of innovation.
  4. Empowering Patient Engagement: Building trust in the pharmaceutical industry necessitates empowering patients as active participants in their own healthcare. Involving patients in decision-making processes, such as clinical trial design or drug development, can lead to better outcomes and foster trust. When patients feel heard, respected, and included, they are more likely to trust the industry’s commitment to their well-being. Embracing care models that are patient-centric and leveraging patient feedback to drive improvements will strengthen the bond between patients and pharmaceutical companies, ultimately benefiting both parties.
  5. Addressing Global Health Disparities: Trust is not limited to individual patients or local communities; it extends to global health as well. The pharmaceutical industry plays a pivotal role in addressing global health disparities by ensuring equitable access to life-saving treatments and vaccines. By actively engaging in initiatives aimed at improving healthcare access in underserved regions, the industry can build trust and contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable future. Collaboration with governments, NGOs and international organizations will be essential to achieving these goals.

Trust is clearly an imperative for the future of the pharma and health industry, and by investing in trust, the industry can enhance its reputation, strengthen relationships, and create a positive impact on the lives of millions of individuals worldwide.

Whether it is sustaining, building, or rebuilding trust with your customers, Escalent and sister companies, C Space and Hall & Partners, would love to help you amplify your efforts in building the most relevant and powerful version of your brand. Together, we provide research and consulting to the top 20 life science companies throughout the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch phases to continuously tap into the voice of the customer through strategic insights studies and deeply understand customer needs through a variety of research approaches and tools. The resulting marketing and service innovations show that life sciences truly “get” their customers – a must in rebuilding trust.


Want to learn more? Let’s connect.

Courtney Kerwin
Courtney Kerwin
Vice President, Health & Life Sciences

Courtney Kerwin is a vice president in Escalent's Health & Life Sciences group. She has more than a decade of experience as a consultant helping pharmaceutical and biotech companies of all shapes and sizes address key business questions leveraging data and insights. Her experience spans the product lifecycle from early-stage opportunity assessment to launch and beyond, and across therapeutic areas including immunology, neurology, oncology, respiratory, and rare disease. She's passionate about creating new custom solutions with her clients and ensuring the customer voice is at the heart of strategic decisions. Courtney resides in beautiful Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two little boys who keep her very busy outside of Escalent.