The good, the bad, and the ugly on brands' data privacy

While it is not the responsibility of marketing to maintain data privacy, it can still effect the overall perception of a brand. Just like companies maintain their reputation with great customer service (or not), data and its security can also be a major player in branding.

Brands can range from defenders of privacy to actively selling customer information. However, each type of stance on customer's data can affect people's perception of the company and its products.

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Brands can be defined through their stance on data privacy.

Companies like Apple have established a reputation for protecting their customers' data. It wouldn't help unlock iPhones in a controversial decision to not help law enforcement. It also works on collecting customer data without looking at your data by relying on differential privacy. Customers care about the data and its privacy, and companies like Apple are standing on the side of the consumer.

Collecting data without customers permission can tarnish brand trust.

On the other hand, some other companies are looking at customer data at an individual level to try and learn more. With devices susceptible to hacking, even your personal items aren't safe.

We-Vibe collected highly sensitive information about their customers use of their products. While they did not sell the information, it brought up the question of what companies should be tracking and what might happen in the event of a data breach.

Additionally, customers should know up front what kind of information is being collected when they use a certain technology. Once consumers learned what type of information was being tracked by We-Vibe, they said they would not have purchased the product. Which is among many reasons that the company is going to pay out settlements to affected customers.

Going a step further: collecting data and selling it to third parties without informing customers that this data was being collected in the first place can also hurt your brand equity. Bose is accused of doing just this.

What can marketing do?

Marketers can help make sure that their company's stance on data, consumer privacy, and responsibility in the event of a breach, is well known. By influencing the brand's perception as one of responsibility and informing customers of the type of data that can be prone to breach, companies can help consumers make more informed decisions about the types of products they buy and use.

How has data and consumer privacy affected how your marketing?

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