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4 minute read
In 2022, it’s estimated that a single company will lose an average of USD $4.35 million as a result of a data breach.1 While this accounts for cost factors ranging from a loss in employee productivity to legal fees, the impact of the event on brand equity and customer trust can leave companies haemorrhaging, not just in the immediate aftermath but for years to come2.
So how did we all leave ourselves so vulnerable? And what can we be doing to champion security in our marketing to keep customers on side?
The most recent example of a disaster in data privacy is the September 2022 Optus hack, in which up to 10 million customers were impacted. The leak included names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers – and in some cases – passport, driver’s licence and Medicare numbers. Not only for current customers, but those who had left the telco too3.
Usually, companies are required to delete a person’s data after they’ve used it for its original purpose, or at the very least, encrypt or de-identify it should they be within their rights to retain it. But Optus wasn’t sufficiently doing any of that with the highly-sensitive personal data they were hoarding. As a result, the brand is already facing the risk of a mass exodus of current customers, as well as calls for compensation from past customers who’ve been impacted4.
Back when data leaks were less common and less severe, customers usually saw the brands involved as unlucky victims of a crime, and because of this, were more likely to stick with them following the experience5. However, with increased publicity around how personal data is collected and its value to big companies, customers have become significantly more aware and critical of its use – holding companies to much higher standards than they once did. Even going as far as to demand assurance around data security in exchange for their business.
“Brands that hold little-publicised products backed by robust security features could be benefiting by pushing these to the forefront of their marketing.”
Recent studies have shown that customers increasingly care about the security of their data over the convenience and heightened personalisation its use can enable6. While future legislative changes are likely to force the hand of brands in terms of their technical infrastructure – encouraging the decommissioning of legacy APIs and so on – brands that are already leaders in this space, or even those that hold little-publicised products backed by robust security features, could be benefiting by pushing these to the forefront of their marketing7.
As usual, Apple was ahead of the game, identifying the growing importance security would play in future customer decision-making as far back as 2014 – with Apple CEO Tim Cook stating, “A world without privacy is less imaginative, less empathetic, less innovative, less human”. And further pledging Apple’s ongoing “commitment to protecting people from a data-industrial complex built on a foundation of surveillance”8.
Since then, Apple has progressively spent more and more time developing their security features and bringing them (somehow comically) to the centre of their brand identity and marketing campaigns. Like these ones:
‘Oversharing’ – 2020
‘Data Auction’ – 2022
And just this year, have announced two initiatives to protect customers against cybercrime.
Apple’s security efforts not only build their customer loyalty and reputation, they offer the brand a market advantage through the opportunity to expand into more sensitive areas like finance and health, as a result of the customer trust they have cultivated. And recent campaigns like this from competitor WhatsApp, further prove the value of this territory:
The myth that convenience and security can’t coexist has led to a siloed approach from most. Instead, brands need to be following in the footsteps of Apple and working to build security up as a core pillar of their brand, not just a technical necessity running in the background.