Trends Drive Decline In Consumer Trust

by , Op-Ed Contributor, (July 11, 2016)


What a crazy summer already.   Trump has led the domestic headlines and even got the interest of email marketers with very visible poor practices that we all cringe at.   There’s Brexit, Wimbledon, terrorist attacks, EUFA Euro, race protests, and the stock market.  This is also the four year cycle where you have Olympic build-up , presidential primaries and the ever-shifting global landscape.   

In a world where marketers/brands crave to acquire more data and insight on the customer, we have these consumer events that tend to counteract all the trust we’ve built concerning consumer privacy.   

A recent survey by Harris Poll on behalf of data science company Feedzai found that Americans have serious trust issues when it comes to their personal and financial data. One in five Americans would rather break a bone than deal with identify theft.

Is this an episodic or a pressing consumer trend?  I think it’s safe to say the recent world events can be deemed episodic, but you can’t ignore the long-term impact of data privacy on marketers’ ability to personalize experiences and the increasingly savvy Millennial group that has so many life hacks to obfuscate their personal data.  

In the survey, “Consumer Trust Survey: Data in the Hands of Companies and Government,” more than half of participants said they don’t trust anyone with their personal data — including banks and retailers. One quarter trust banking websites and 13% trust government entities, while just 2% trust mobile phone manufacturers, wireless providers or big corporations.

Americans are most suspicious of the devices they own: 44% think using their smartphone, desktop, laptop, tablet or standard mobile phone puts them at higher risk for fraud.  IoT scares people even more, as now you have a potential invasion of the home with very personal lifestyle data.  But 23% of those polled  think they’re most at risk for fraud when using a retail point-of-sale device.   

And while retailers are trying to hone their personalization proficiency by mashing up personal data to deliver a better experience, the survey found that more than eight in 10 participants are unlikely to give companies more access to their information in exchange for better marketing or personalization.

What are marketers to do — especially email marketers, which  tend to see the world through the end of a bottle?

Pete Psichogios, president of CSI International Performance Group, wrote a book I highly recommend reading: “The Seven Principles of Personalization.”  The seven principles he calls out are: authenticity — being real and genuine; empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another human being; hospitality — the ability to make someone feel welcome with a positive attitude; commitment — being willing to do whatever it takes, no matter what; competency — the skills and ability to excel in your role; and, numbers six and seven, friendliness and fun — the ability not to take oneself too seriously. While on the surface these may seem like sound bites, there is merit in rethinking how you build your personalization strategy based on humans, not bits and bytes.

As we build for pre-holiday peak season over the next three months, your marketing will need to be more creative, more thoughtful, more sensitive to cultural trends (not just to use them as sound bites to get an open).  Riding cultural waves, being adaptive to world event inconsistencies should trump (no pun intended) linear views of driving retail revenue. This is where testing, speed, and flexibility will serve you best. Are you set up for this? Search Marketing Daily


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