CMO Council Study Finds Consumer Concerns over Information Security on the Rise

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Consumer concerns about breaches in information security are rising throughout the U.S. and Europe, enough to have a major impact on consumer loyalty and business relationships, according to the new "Secure the Trust of Your Brand" survey being released today by the Chief Marketing Officer Council.

For the survey, over 2,200 consumers were fielded by the Chief Marketing Officer Council and the Business Performance Management Forum  , both based in Palo Alto, CA. The survey was underwritten by Cupertino, CA-based Symantec and Factiva, a Dow Jones and Reuters company based in New York.

According to the survey, not only do more than half of survey respondents say their security concerns are rising -- particularly among those who have experienced breaches -- but consumers are not taking these incidents lightly: 40 percent have actually stopped a transaction online, on the phone or in a store due to a security concern.

In addition, more than one third of respondents indicated they would strongly consider taking their business elsewhere if their personal information was compromised. A quarter said they would definitely take their business elsewhere.

The survey report said there is good reason for such consumer backlash over security: In 2005, more than 52 million account records were stolen or misplaced -- a record for such breaches. Among the other key findings of the survey, conducted by Princeton, NJ-based Opinion Research Corp.  include:

  • U.S. consumers were most concerned with identity theft -- even more so than terrorist threats and other personal safety issues. Conversely, European consumers cited Internet transaction security as their biggest information-based worry.
  • Computer security breaches, such as viruses and spyware, are clearly a unifying force in both geographies: two thirds of consumers across the U.S. and Europe have been victims of these types of breaches.
  • There's room for companies to literally make a name for themselves with robust security policies and response strategies. When asked an open-ended question about their "most trusted" type of industry or specific company in terms of security, consumers' answers varied widely, indicating an opportunity for companies and industries to further build brand trust. Banking was the industry most often named by respondents as "most trusted" for protecting its customers' security.

The consumer survey is one component of an ongoing Secure the Trust of Your Brand initiative, which also includes qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys with business and marketing executives, research conducted by the Zyman Institute of Brand Science at Emory University, and a comprehensive media tracking study fielded by Factiva.

The full Secure the Trust of Your Brand report will be available in September 2006.

The report is available for download at: www.cmocouncil.org.

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