The coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses to adapt their working practices and priorities almost overnight. Six months in, it looks like the disruption and uncertainty caused the pandemic is set to continue. With a sharpened focus on public health, healthcare brands in particular have had to rethink the way they communicate and connect with their key audiences.
Within this context it is vital that health messages and campaigns strike the right tone, and above all demonstrate a brand’s value and trustworthiness to customers, stakeholders and the general public. So, in this ever evolving landscape, how do healthcare brands communicate their health messages effectively?
To find out more, we conducted desk research using publically available sources of information, such as national surveys, academic research and media coverage, to explore how attitudes to health news and information have changed throughout the course of the pandemic. We also commissioned a poll of 500 UK consumers, to understand which sources people are most likely to turn to for trusted health information, as well as the factors that impact their trust in these sources. Finally, we conducted a number of qualitative interviews with healthcare professionals and healthcare communicators to understand the challenges they face when trying to communicate health messages to patients and other audiences.
Here’s what we found…
Consumer habits are changing
- Broadly speaking, the pandemic has driven an increase in time spent online and people’s appetite for health-related advice and stories
- Consumers are now a more captive audience, and a large majority are spending more time consuming content as a result of the outbreak
Trust in health experts is growing
- When asked what would make them most likely to lose trust in a source of health information, 70% of our survey respondents said they would do so if didn’t come from a qualified HCP.
- Similarly, when asked which sources they would rely on most for trustworthy health information in the event of second national lockdown, respondents overwhelmingly indicated they would turn to HCPs or official health organisations, such as the NHS.
The rise of the relatable expert
- Consumers are increasingly seeking out content from familiar, trusted faces who have expertise and specialist knowledge
- A third (36%) of our respondents said they wouldn’t trust health information if it didn’t come from someone with personal experience of a particular health issue. Close to a fifth (17%) also said they would lose trust in a source of health information if it didn’t come from someone they could personally relate to
- When it comes to the channels used to amplify health messages, trust in traditional media has at times waned during the outbreak. Most sources agree, however, that trust in broadcast media has increased.
- Our own research also suggests that trust in and the use of channels (particularly social media) varies notably depending on audience age
The role of brands in communicating health messages
- In the current climate, healthcare brands should play a key role in ensuring that health-related content is not only accessible, but also accurate
- One of the HCPs we spoke with highlighted that, in some cases, when patients do not trust the information and advice provided by their HCP, this is often because they aren’t provided with enough information to meet their expectations – this is a gap that healthcare brands could perhaps help to fill
To read our recommendations for healthcare brands and communicators, please click here to access the full report.
Kaizo provides strategic insights, PR support and consultancy to healthcare, pharma and technology brands. For more information on our healthcare communications services, please contact Anita Nahal: email@example.com.