Consumer Paranoia and EcommerceA 2014 report by the Identity Theft Resource Center reported 619 security breaches last year, affecting more than 57 million people. Some of these high profile breaches (i.e. Target, Kaiser, the Federal Reserve) caused justifiable paranoia and now the smart businessperson is responsible for regaining consumer trust. To do this, we need to understand a little about the psychology of

The Psychology Of E-Commerce

According to attachment theory, a person’s ability to create relationships stem from the strength of their parental attachments as infants. If one feels consistently secure as a child, he or she is more likely to be trusting of relationships as an adult, but when a child feels consistently insecure, there is a higher chance that he or she will have difficulty trusting others in the future. Likewise, when consumers find out about security breaches, attachment theory says that their perceptions will default to the ones that they developed as infants. Strongly attached individuals will take it in stride as an isolated accident. Poorly attached people will see this as evidence of their distrustful world view.

To counteract a consumer’s predisposition, marketing scientists use a concept called priming. People who hear the word yellow will be able to locate a banana hidden in a picture faster than a person that did not get primed by the word. Putting associative images and words in front of consumers that help them associate you with security and safety sparks a neurological process that helps them process your message.

Consumer Perception Of Safety

Considering the fact that most people didn’t have a perfect attachment to their parents, most of us default to distrust when we have little information on a subject. IT professionals have a tendency to trust cyber-security more than non-technical people because the computer expert has a conscious decision making mechanism on which to rely. Without this knowledge base, the person can only depend on his or her instincts.

The first thing an e-commerce business executive needs to do to gain (or regain) consumer trust is educate. Transparency is crucial. Let’s deconstruct the LifeLock AOL page. As a cyber-security leader, LifeLock can assume that its customer base has limited knowledge about internet security. A quick Google search on computer viruses will undoubtedly yield the term “Trojan Horse.” Guess what image is on the LifeLock AOL page? A knight protecting a computer from a Trojan Horse. This is a great example of priming, as before the customer reads any text, his or her brain is ready to hear about the ways that viruses can be stopped.

Use Customer Reviews For Safety

Sharing testimonials from trusted groups can also help your further drive home that your e-commerce company will keep consumers’ information safe. First establish yourself as an expert in security with an informative, articulate message on a web page or published article. Link this to your social media feeds so that readers are able to comment. Ask for comments and reviews on the security of your system. Your goal is to place the consumer and your company on the same team. You want commentators to testify to your professionalism, integrity and security. Use images that prime people in the best directions. Use positive vocabulary so that you get positive responses.

Safe Means High Quality

Take all of your literature about internet security and wrap it into your overall marketing plan. Internet security is no longer a taboo subject and consumers assume that companies offer both on-line and off-line services. One of the links that customers do make is that a high quality company is also a secure company. Thinking about it anecdotal, most people would be alright with giving their credit card information to a large multi-national bank compared to a mom-and-pop street cart vendor. Use your conversation about security to emphasis the quality of your services, the appropriateness of your price point, and the expertise of your customer care.