Do consumers really trust their doctors’ suggestions and drugs they prescribe? : the relationship between perceived risk and trust in consumer buying decisions on prescription drugs, and how pharmaceutical companies can improve consumer’s trust through marketing activities in China
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- Master Thesis 
This thesis examines how perceived risk and trust affect consumer’s buying decisions during the process of buying and consuming prescription drugs, and investigates how pharmaceutical companies can improve consumer’s trust by strategically designing and performing their marketing activities in the Chinese pharmaceutical market. Previous literature has generally introduced the overview of consumer buying process and the two important factors that may influence the buying decisions: perceived risk and trust. But the whole picture of consumer’s buying decision making processes on prescription drugs, detailed perceived risk and trust on prescription drugs, and how pharmaceutical companies can reduce the negative influence of distrust in buying decision, have not been investigated by researchers. This research applied a qualitative approach through two phases of data collection. The first phase was a pilot study with 5 interviews to propose the buying decision process model of prescription drugs and investigate how perceived risk and trust can affect consumer’s buying decision. The second phase was a field study with 31 interviews to examine consumer’s concepts relating to “trust” on pharmaceutical activities. Pictures of market activities were shown to interviewees and questions were asked for drawing customer mind maps. The prescription drug’s buying decision process is consistent with classical 5 steps’ model but also has its unique features: consumers evaluate and search information for hospitals and physicians to get reliable diagnosis before taking drugs. And trust, associating with several dimensions and antecedents of perceived risk, is playing an important role in consumer’s buying decisions. Findings showed that pharmaceutical companies can build trustable relationships between patients and physicians by strategically design their market activities.