Data breaches, where sensitive customer information is lost as a result of hacking or just plain carelessness, have a strong emotional impact on consumers but do not always lead them to abandon the company as a customer, according to a survey.
In the 2007 Data Breach vs Brand Equity Consumer Survey, 406 consumers in the US were asked whether they had stopped going to a particular store because the chain had thousands of customer records stolen.
Although 21.1% responded they had stopped shopping where confidential records had been stolen, 43% indicated they would not, a full 14.5% disagreeing strongly. The remaining 36% of those surveyed did not have a firm opinion about shopping at stores with a history of losing sensitive customer information.
The results of the survey, sponsored by Tablus, are probably welcome news for retailers like TJX Companies, which earlier this year acknowledged a massive data breach. But the survey does suggest some cautionary advice: It indicates consumers are very emotional about what happens to their customer and financial data.
In the survey, well over 90% said they believe that companies and stores have an obligation to protect personal information, and that there was no excuse for a company to expose customer's confidential information.
More than 80% said they though companies that have never had cusomer confidential information stolen are more trustworthy than those that have lost that information. 95% believe protecting customers from risks associated with a data breach should be considered the highest priority to companies. About 75% of the survey respondents said they would not buy stock in companies where records had been stolen.
More than 42% of the respondents said there were stores they had lost trust in because they had heard that they lost customers' credit card numbers or other sensitive private information, though 33% lacked a firm opinion on that subject and the remainder disagreed.
87% of respondents said that when a company lost their customers' sensitive personal information, they lost respect for that business, and 89% said they did not trust companies that cannot provide protection for confidential information.
However, with 43% of the those surveyed still willing to shop at a store that has lost thousands of customers records, it suggests that brand loyalty sometimes trumps loss of respect in the minds of consumers.