Consumers expect companies to have hand in health

NEW YORK: Sixty five percent of people worldwide will buy a product or service if they believe a company is effectively involved in health initiatives, according to a new study.

NEW YORK: Sixty five percent of people worldwide will buy a product or service if they believe a company is effectively involved in health initiatives, according to a new study.

These results stem from the Edelman Health Engagement Barometer, which was released April 13 and looks at how the general public views companies that engage on health issues, whether they are traditional healthcare companies or not.

“Companies that are seen to recognize and really respect that wellness doesn't necessarily mean disease-free are going to get a lot of credit,” said Nancy Turett, global president of health for Edelman.

She noted that products like cars and computer keyboards can be built and positioned to suit the health needs of a consumer, such as a keyboard aimed at people with arthritis.

“The way firms, like ours, go about building programs for clients that are health-oriented should really be done with multiple specialties involved,” Turett said. “There's such a convergence now of consumer and health, social responsibility and health, public affairs and health – and not just for healthcare companies.”

Nearly 60% of the 15,000 people surveyed in 11 countries said the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical devices industries should create products and services that “maintain or improve health,” while 57% of respondents said companies have a duty to educate the public about health aspects of their products.

The barometer surveyed the role consumers expect of industries such as consumer technology, food and beverage, media and entertainment, and brewing and spirits.

At least 42% of respondents for each sector said educating the public on health topics relating to a company's products and services is important, yet 51% said that business is doing a “fair or bad” job engaging in health.

“The kinds of ways that the public expects companies to engage in health varies depending on industry,” said Turett. “There are some companies and some organizations that are outside the healthcare industry that are engaging in health differently.”

For younger consumers, the role of a health strategy is becoming similar to the way companies have developed sustainability strategies.

“They are looking for employers and looking for business situations where they can feel really good about who they are doing business with,” said Turett. “It becomes now a competitive advantage to be either creating products in health or engaging in health.

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