Thursday, February 19, 2015

Making Privacy A Priority

I recently received an email from my employer that I might be one of the 80 million or so people who have had their private information, including name, date of birth, social security number, address, phone number, email address and employment information compromised by a cyber attack on the health insurance company Anthem.  Of course, this is enough valid personal information to open up just about any type of fake account and exploit the victim without being detected.    

An official notice of whether my personal information was actually stolen will follow in the coming weeks via mail, because, as we all just learned, the digital world just too risky for that information to be floating out there.  However, while I wait for the postman to deliver my fate, myself and anyone who has ever carried an Anthem insurance card can pretend to be reassured by consulting a website; AnthemFacts.com.

Perhaps the scariest part of all is that these massive breaches of cyber security are becoming ever more commonplace.  Whether it be Target, Home Depot, Apple, Sony or Anthem, a hazardous consumer privacy landscape appears to be part of the deal.  The question consumers will eventually find themselves asking is whether this trade-off ultimately benefits them.

Businesses will need to do more to convince them that it does.  Consumers will not blindly opt-in to "privacy" policies designed to obfuscate the rules and ultimately exploit their information while CEO's are routinely penning apology letters for fumbling it away to criminals.  Or equally disturbing, padding their bottom lines by selling information to their marketing partners.

Consumers and lawmakers won't buy the line that businesses are doing everything in their power to keep our information safe when they're actively tricking consumers about what they're signing up for and passing it around town to their friends.

One final thought on privacy.  Upon learning that my information could be vulnerable, I researched identity theft protection service from Lifelock.  I have heard personal stories about how the company supports its marketing position "Relentlessly Protecting Your Identity."

However, by offering a three-tier pricing structure, Lifelock is contradicting its own marketing position.  If its services improve proportionally to the cost the customer pays, then there are two groups of customers that they are not being "relentlessly" protected.  A flat rate would fix this dilemma between sales and marketing strategy. 

Finally, I believe the company and others like it are missing an opportunity in marketing itself.  Sold independently, Lifelock just feels like another thing consumers have to shell out for that they didn't in the past; therefore, its market is limited to those who already need it.  But this market could grow substantially if its bundled with insurance, thus expanding the market to those who might need it in the future.  Both companies would benefit; Lifelock could dramatically grow the industry pie while insurance companies would find a new slice in a slow growth industry.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings.

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