Chapell & Associates

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Two Approaches to Selling Secure Transactions

NY Times - February 1, 2006
VISA and MasterCard use similar strategies to fight identity theft and fraud, but the companies have come up with two vastly different approaches to market their security efforts. Visa USA has taken its message to consumers, sending out a stream of television and magazine ads highlighting the steps it takes when account data is missing. MasterCard International aims at merchants and other players in the payment chain with a lower-profile campaign using ads that look like articles that encourage protecting the information in the first place.

The Chapell View
In a broad sense, it's good to see more companies - especially financial or credit card companies like MasterCard or VISA, who hold large amounts of sensitive information - focus on their treatment of consumer information. Moreover, it's becoming more common for these companies to see privacy and security matters as a value added to services: a way to differentiate between competitors.

It's also interesting to see the different ways in which this differentiation is aimed at through marketing. As pointed out here, VISA is using the more obvious strategy - focusing on reassuring consumer worry over identity theft and letting customers know what they do in the case of a security breach or lost credit card information. MasterCard, on the other hand, seems a bit more subtle, looking instead at what can be done to proactively limit the possibility that consumers will have to worry about such an event.

Point in fact, both approaches have merit. I think VISA is more obviously using security as a value added; running advertisements based purely on a "pocket of security" really is marketing why consumers should put their trust in a particular brand. While MasterCard's approach might be less obvious, it's hardly inaccurate. Often enough, there's only so much consumers can do to prevent the loss of sensitive information (see Alan's recent article in the DM News), and it makes sense to look to preventative solutions.

I'm not entirely convinced, though, that MasterCard is right when it suggests that security is entirely a "latent issue" - as time passes, more consumers are increasingly concerned with how their information is protected. Selling a brand in this environment might be helped by a little more obviousness - after all, as MasterCard themselves once said, "knowing you're safe and secure when you shop online" really is "priceless."
posted by Isaac on Wednesday, February 01, 2006

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