Being Liked in a Disliked Industry
Last month Gallup released the results of a survey asking Americans how they view different business and industry sectors.
Here are the top five most disliked industries:
- Oil and Gas (drilling and refining)
- Electric and Gas (utilities)
The poll also included the Federal Government which ranked worst overall. I chose not to include them in this article, because their revenue is not dependent on popularity.
Perception of Value is key.
One thing all these industries have in common is that they generate huge profits yet we don’t perceive them as contributing value to us individually and/or societally.
In general, energy and utilities have somewhat of an unfair perception by Americans. In the United States we have some of the lowest cost energy providers, and are one of the lesser polluted countries.
Our consumption, however, is massive. Because of this, overall expenditures are huge. Additionally, the fact that Americans must import the majority of their energy needs creates a feeling of insecurity.
The energy industry in general has focused marketing on claims they provide high income jobs, have little environmental impact, and provide low-cost units of fuel. Unfortunately, this is falling on deaf ears. The simple version is that Americans simply don’t believe these claims.
Many of these companies need to realign their thinking, focusing on reliability and value. Additionally, they need to publicly acknowledge the detrimental aspects of their industry and demonstrate a plan to gradually transition to cleaner and more homegrown sources of fuel.
Healthcare and pharmaceuticals also have a perception of value problem.
Overall healthcare costs per capita are more than double the cost of any other country in the world. The United States has a distinct entitlement attitude toward health.
Unfortunately, for healthcare companies, it’s difficult to establish a value on human life. Because of this, both costs and profits have spiraled out of control in the minds of American consumers.
Healthcare companies and healthcare providers as individuals are seen as reaping huge profits. In fact, profit making in health care is a direct result of supply and demand. Americans failed to recognize their insatiable demand for health services.
The healthcare industry needs to focus on value. Additionally, they need to focus on advancements in medicine.
For pharmaceuticals, they need to demonstrate greater emphasis on cure versus treatment. Likely we would support the high cost of medicines if we perceived the massive research costs being spent toward eliminating disease rather than reducing symptoms.
Healthcare suffers from the pass/fail perception of value. If you receive treatment and live, you got what you expect. If you receive treatment and did not live, your expectations failed. The challenge with healthcare companies is they have difficulty demonstrating comparative value. Surveys have shown that people judge hospitals and skilled nursing facilities based on the quality of food, the amenities in the rooms, and the friendliness of staff. Healthcare is being judged on hospitality.
Emphasizing hospitality for your healthcare brand is critical for positive feelings about your organization. Saving lives is important, but that only meets the expectation. Treatment in comfort will exceed the expectation. It’s a difficult challenge because it’s difficult to feel comfortable while undergoing health treatment.
Americans have a love-hate relationship with the legal industry.
We are the most litigious society in the world, yet dislike paying legal fees for facilitating this litigation.
Furthermore, the legal industry markets itself heavily to consumers whom often aren’t paying for services “unless we get money for you”. In fact the legal industry provides a huge percentage of work that ends up generating zero income.
Additionally, most of the mass media marketing is focused on a relatively small, but highly competitive group of malpractice and accident-related cases.
The industry as a whole need to provide emphasis on the less glamorous parts of their industry such as providing the legal representations for class actions, defending on behalf of environmental or consumer damages, and the balance between societal protection and fair defense in our justice system.
Law firms that present anecdotal stories about the value of legal representation will differentiate themselves from the competition.
Legal healthcare and energy companies all provide services we need and can’t live without, yet they are burdened by being able to prove value for a variety of reasons. Keep asking yourself two questions. How can I enhance the overall perception of value for my industry? How can I differentiate myself from my peers by accentuating specific value my company provides?