Study: For U.S. Companies Online Security Has Evolved From Technology Problem Into Full-Blown Marketing Crisis

Consumers not satisfied with marketers' efforts to shore up online security and are ready to walk if things don't improve.

Apr 03, 2014, 08:00 ET from Radius Global Market Research

NEW YORK, April 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Time is ticking for companies to crack the code of online security. A new study from Radius Global Market Research shows that the issue ranks supreme on consumers' social issues radar, and they are ready to abandon brands that they feel cannot be trusted. Consumers largely feel it is a marketer's responsibility to protect information, and currently they don't think anyone is doing it well.

Protecting personal information is top social issue among consumers.
Perhaps most startling is the degree to which consumers are personally concerned about protecting their personal information. When asked which social issue is most important to them, online security (87%), online privacy (85%), identity theft (83%), and fraud (79%), topped the list ahead of health insurance (78%), unemployment (71%), obesity (51%), natural disaster relief (62%), bullying (66%), and gun control (61%).

"More than half of the consumers we surveyed had personal experience with identity theft," says Mark Menne, senior vice president at Radius GMR. "A majority of consumers are very aware of what's personally at risk when a security breach occurs."

Security issues are having a real impact on consumer behavior.
More than three-fourths of consumers indicated that they would stop doing business with companies that they felt had violated their privacy. A majority said that simply reading or hearing about a company's security breach makes them less inclined to buy/shop there (69%). Consumers try to only do business with companies that they feel can handle their data (67%).

"Interestingly, half of consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service if they believe the company values their privacy more," adds Menne. "There is a significant reward for those companies that earn a reputation for doing a good job."

No industry is perceived as getting online security right.
When asked which industry they feel is doing the best job at keeping their information safe, no clear leader emerged with "no industry" ranking the highest (29%). Across every industry but one, consumers feel that the responsibility for online security falls squarely on the company. The single exception is with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where more consumers feel it is their own responsibility to keep information secure.

"It is clear that online security is an issue that will be looming large for the foreseeable future," adds Menne. "It's important for companies to have a current pulse on how consumers perceive their brands and actively manage marketing messages whether they are enjoying success or facing a crisis."

Radius GMR's online consumer study "Privacy & Security Issues Among U.S. Consumers" surveyed consumers who own or use regularly a computer, tablet, or mobile phone in December 2013. A summary of survey results can be obtained by visiting

About Radius Global Market Research
Radius Global Market Research ( is one of the largest independent market research companies based in the U.S. The company partners with leading global marketers to develop insights-based business strategies that drive brand performance. Based in New York, Radius GMR's research experience spans more than 60 countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

SOURCE Radius Global Market Research