Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New survey: Consumers plan to sharply limit use of cards (AKA, have we awakened a sleeping giant?)

We have heard it all over – customers do not seem to be concerned about retailers mismanaging their data. They still spend money in those stores. It does not impact retailer revenue or stock price. So, let us not worry about it too much.
Wrong. I believe it is just a matter of time before consumers understand the issue and become intolerant of sloppy data protection. And maybe that time has come. The recent story on “60 Minutes” is shining a light on the issue and is an indicator of rising consumer awareness.
Coincidently, we at BitArmor, in partnership with several local TV news departments, conducted a survey over the Black Friday weekend (400 respondents) on this very issue. The results are significant, if not surprising:
· Three out of four consumers are concerned about companies not adequately protecting their data;
· Two-thirds of consumers plan to use their credit card for less than 25% of their holiday purchases;
· Only around 2% say they will continue shopping at a retailer they have heard does not do a good job of protecting data;
· More than 40% have had their identity stolen or know of someone who has;
· 75% of respondents say they would warn friends and family if they knew a store where they shopped wasn’t adequately protecting their data, 33% would sign up for credit monitoring and around 70% say they would be more careful while using their cards.
This should serve as a huge wakeup call to any company that works with sensitive payment card data; their customers are seeing what’s going on, and they don’t like it. Shoppers are increasingly concerned about what’s happening to their data. It’s reflected in fewer people using their credit cards, and it’s reflected in them saying they’ll shop at other stores if they don’t feel their personal information is being adequately protected. It seems we have awakened a sleeping giant…consumers who are spreading the word among friends and families about whom they consider to be are “poor” retailers (from the data protection point of view).
I’ve talked with some analysts who reject the notion that things will ever change. They say that consumers talk a good game, but don’t change their actual buying habits. Perhaps…but when “60 Minutes” starts referring to TJX by name, and calling its security efforts “outdated” and “obsolete,” I have to believe that a lot of shoppers will think twice before using their credit cards there right away. (And apparently Michael Horowitz at CNET agrees with me.)
All this points to the importance of securing customer data and making sure the right policies are in place. Is that enough? Maybe, but to increase customer confidence in a retailer, they will have to work just as hard in protecting their brand and increasing perception of trust.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The tide is indeed starting to shift and it is surprising what it takes (or doesn't) to sway individuals from using credit cards.

Showing that less than 1/10000th of a percent of individuals believes this is true is one thing, while showing that a larger segment of the population is aware is quite a different story.

Consumers need to come to the realization sooner that they need to be proactive about their credit. Consumer education of basic credit card security (or lack their of) is a huge concern that needs to be addressed.