rants

Loose Lips Sink Ships

April 23, 2013

The saying “Loose Lips Sinks Ships” was made popular during World War II. Primarily used in war campaigns and propaganda posters, the expression, quickly turned slogan, served as a catchy reminder to not speak carelessly with regard to important information. In times of war, “unguarded talk” regarding tactics, planning and movement could be heard by the enemy, giving them an advantage to disrupt a course of action or literally sink a ship if given its location.

Several months ago I decided to install an OnStar system in my car via a local merchant. While the installation was done properly and I am currently enjoying the benefits of the system, I couldn’t help but notice that shortly thereafter I began to receive numerous direct mail pieces referring to ownership of a Dodge vehicle. I received offers from local dealers for discounted services and maintenance packages; congratulations on the new installation of a Sirius system and how to take “enhance” my experience, etc. I’m not sure that I would’ve been nearly as vexed had I actually owned a Dodge vehicle or installed a new Sirius radio, but I did not and had not. Given the messaging, it would appear that the merchant had entered some incorrect information into my customer account or simply attached my name and mailing address to someone else’s vehicle details. Either way, it seems clear that the merchant was being rather “careless” with customers’ personal information.

In an infographic output by LoyaltyOne, it would appear many consumers have had to learn the hard way or are simply more selective than I with personal information. See article for more information.

On one hand, I enjoy receiving tailored marketing messages “just for me.” I feel as though the company is viewing me as an individual and supporting the creation of a solid brand/consumer relationship, rather than regarding me as Order#34475924756648b. I know this is done through the collection of customer data and monitoring my activity on their site, with their brand, through social media, etc. I am a marketer and I appreciate this level of integration, detail and relationship management. More often than not, it enhances my experience.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that maybe I am being supplied with the “Big Brother” I never had. How much information are brands really collecting, and despite what I perceive, what else are they doing with it? And, dare I ask with whom it is shared? As a consumer, I have to worry about how much is too much. Based on the survey results—and subsequent infographic—by LoyaltyOne, it would appear that I am not alone in my concern.

What do you think about these kinds of privacy concerns, and ultimately trust issues? As a consumer what kinds of information do you draw the line at; Social Security Number? Height and hair color? Or perhaps your preferred brand of briefs? Also, how do you as a marketer reinforce positive interactions with your more distressed/suspicious customers?

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