CMO Council: Marketers Don't Keep Up with Impact of Security on Their Brands

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Marketing executives are failing to keep pace with the financial, customer and brand implications of information security in the digital age, according to the findings of a major research initiative by the Chief Marketing Officer Council that are being released Sept. 18.

With customer sensitivity, media scrutiny and public awareness about security escalating in every sector of the economy, companies must do more to develop contingency plans and brand strategies to address both the risks and opportunities associated with security, the study warns.

"As our digital dependency grows, the connection between information security and brand trust becomes much stronger," said Donovan Neal-May, executive director of the CMO Council. "Our study shows that while some companies are aggressively addressing this issue, too many are not and, therefore, run the risk of brand and business value erosion."

The research initiative, titled " Secure the Trust of Your Brand: How Security and IT Integrity Influence Corporate Brands," studies how security is impacting business value and performance, customer confidence and retention, and brand reputation and integrity.

In collaboration with Cupertino, CA-based Symantec and Factiva, a Dow Jones and Reuters company based in New York , the CMO Council study includes surveys of corporate executives, marketers, and customers, including a survey of more than 2,000 consumers in North America and Europe conducted with Opinion Research Corp., as well as discussions with 25 leading marketing executives on the study's advisory board. Other key elements of the research include extensive analysis conducted by Factiva of media coverage surrounding security breaches and issues and additional brand and business performance analytics conducted by the Zyman School of Brand Science at Emory University's Goizeuta Business School.

Among study findings:

  • While both corporate marketers and business executives indicate emphatically that security concerns are rising for their companies and their customers, just 29 percent of marketers say that their company has a crisis containment plan in case of a security breach. Furthermore, although 60 percent of marketers believe that security and IT integrity provide an opportunity for brand differentiation, 60 percent also say that security has not become a more significant theme in their company's messaging and marketing communications.
  • Consumers confirm they're both worried and agitated. Sixty-five percent say they have experienced some kind of computer security problem. Over half say they would either strongly consider or definitely take their business elsewhere if their personal information were compromised.
  • Many business customers are also ready to sever relationships over breached data. Half of all corporate executives polled said they would either consider or would recommend taking their business elsewhere if a business partner suffered a security breach that compromised their corporate or customer data.

An executive summary and whitepaper of the Secure the Trust of Your Brand study is available on the CMO Council's web site at www.cmocouncil.org.

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