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US Physicians Sharply Increase Their Negative Word of Mouth about Pharma, with EU Doctors Also Expressing High Dissatisfaction

NEW YORK, February 24, 2009 /PRNewswire/ -- The percent of doctors in the US classified as "rebels"--those deeply dissatisfied with the pharmaceutical industry and actively generating negative word of mouth (WOM)--has risen sharply in the last year, from 12% to 19%, according to new TNS Healthcare research with 1,500+ general practitioners. The 5 major European markets--the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain--also show a high proportion of doctors actively creating negative WOM, ranging from a low of 19% in Italy to a high of 27% in the UK.

"The extensive research experience TNS has through our TRI*M(TM) service, which measures relationship strength, shows that companies should have no more than 15% of their customer base fall into the 'rebels' category," says Andrew Brana, Senior Global Consultant, Sales Performance Optimization for TNS Healthcare. "When the percentage rises above that, it becomes increasingly difficult to overcome the negative buzz and promote successfully. While European countries traditionally have had a high proportion of 'rebels' dissatisfied with the industry--particularly in France and the UK--this is the first time we've seen such a negative pattern in the US.

"Consider that last year in the US, there were 3 'apostles'--satisfied customers generating positive word of mouth--for every rebel spouting negative WOM. That's critical because our research shows it takes 3 active advocates--3 apostles--to overcome each 'rebel' detractor. This year, that picture has changed dramatically, with just 2 positive 'apostles' for every negative 'rebel.' For the first time, US companies are facing a truly negative market environment. We call that apostle-to-rebel ratio the Market Resistance Index--and it is basically the headwind working against you. The stronger the headwind, the harder it is to make progress with your customer base."

A Market Resistance Index of 1 or less is optimal. Companies achieving that number have at least 3 apostles actively advocating for them for every rebel working against them. The higher above 1 the Market Resistance Index rises, the more negative word of mouth that is being generated.

Over the last year, the Market Resistance Index in the US increased from 1 to 1.62, demonstrating the sharp increase in negative WOM. The US, however, still fares better than most European countries.

The most negative country is the UK, with a Market Resistance Index of 3.75, demonstrating a tremendous amount of negative feeling toward the pharma industry. France also shows extremely high market resistance, with a score of 3.33. Though this is better than 2008, it is still far above the ideal limit of 1. Germany's situation worsened slightly, with its Market Resistance Index edging up from 1.56 to 1.87.

Spain is the only country showing substantial improvement. Its Market Resistance Index dropped from 2.39 in 2008 to 1.56 this year, showing a significant decrease in negative WOM. Italy shows slight improvement, with its Index moving from 1.44 to 1.38.

"Overall, the industry is facing a difficult situation in every country, with none of the 6 countries we measured showing a positive Market Resistance Index of 1 or less," according to Brana. "When we look at all 17 companies covered in our survey across all 6 countries, we see 22% of physicians are rebels, while just 39% are apostles. In all countries, a substantial population of rebels is driving negative word of mouth, making it hard for companies to achieve sales goals and establish strong customer relationships.

In fact, TNS Healthcare's research shows the damaging effects of increasingly negative word of mouth on customer relationships. The US, which had the greatest increase in negative word of mouth, also had the greatest decline in its TRI*M score, measuring the relationship strength between reps and physicians. The US TRI*M relationship score dropped a significant 3 points over the last year.

Conversely, Spain, the only country experiencing a substantial decrease in negative word of mouth, also is the only country to see its physician relationships grow stronger. In 2009, Spain's TRI*M score improved by 8 points.

"We often get asked the 'chicken and egg' question," says Mark Sales, Global Practice Leader, Stakeholder Management for TNS Healthcare. "Do corporate and brand reputation make it easier to build customer relationships--or do good customer relationships ensure a positive reputation? The answer is it's both the chicken and the egg. In fact, each drives the other. Strong relationships and positive sales experiences certainly enhance positive word of mouth and reputations. On the other hand, the investment you make in building a positive reputation can pay off in better relationships and higher sales results."

TNS Healthcare's word of mouth, market resistance and relationship findings are based on an Internet survey with 1,500+ general practitioners across the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The survey measured TNS's proprietary TRI*M Index, assessing relationship strength. TRI*M lets companies assess whether they are facing a favorable or resistant market situation by determining the percentage of customers falling within four key segments:

TNS Healthcare, a Kantar Healthcare company, provides market research consulting to the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries, as well as health-focused ad agencies, media and analysts. It offers globally consistent solutions and custom advisory services to support product introductions; brand, treatment and sales performance optimization; and physician and DTC promotional assessment.

Informing decisions across the life cycle, TNS Healthcare offers action-ready insights for pre-launch landscaping, market and opportunity assessment, segmentation, positioning, message and campaign creation, pricing, forecasting, attitude and awareness measurement and post-launch tracking. It delivers information across stakeholders--including physicians, patients and consumers--to help companies anticipate and impact customers' behaviors. TNS Healthcare provides both qualitative and quantitative offerings, using traditional and on-line methodologies, combining worldwide reach with local expertise.

TNS is a global market information and insight group.

Its strategic goal is to be recognized as the global leader in delivering value- added information and insights that help its clients make more effective business decisions.

TNS delivers innovative thinking and excellent service across a network of 80 countries. Working in partnership with clients, TNS provides high-quality information, analysis and insight that improve understanding of consumer behavior.

TNS is the world's leading provider of customized services, combining sector knowledge with expertise in the areas of Product Development & Innovation, Brand & Communications, Stakeholder Management and Retail & Shopper. TNS is a major supplier of consumer panel, media intelligence and audience measurement services.

The Kantar Group is one of the world's largest research, insight and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of more than 20 specialist companies-- including the recently-acquired TNS--the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and actionable insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 80 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group's services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies. The Kantar Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of WPP Group plc. For further information, please visit .

CONTACT: Ilene Siegalovsky, Senior Vice President, Marketing andCommunications, of TNS Healthcare, +1-201-836-0040, ext. 225 or. Ilene.Siegalovsky@tns-global.com

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Posted: February 2009


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