Ask a marketer and a consumer what they each think of consumer identity and you’re bound to hear very different things. The marketer might say consumer identity is the key to understanding what customers want, how to most efficiently reach them and how to communicate with them.
But to a lot of consumers, identity is almost a dirty word that connotes privacy invasion and indicates that brands know too much about people.
That’s a big disconnect. But in reality, privacy and consumer identity are not mutually exclusive at all. In fact, consumer identity protects consumers by giving marketers the ability to know only what they need to know about a person to provide the best brand experience possible. And as marketers navigate an advertising environment without cookies, consumer identity is more important than ever.
I’ll walk you through a scenario to explain what I mean. Let’s say I’m growing tired of my home décor while sheltering-in-place. I want to paint the walls, and my wife wants to refinish an old bookshelf. We’re all about DIY. Hey, we’ve got plenty of time at home these days. So, I visit my local hardware store to pick up some paint, wood stain and some other supplies. I’m the one who made the purchase and there’s no reason for my hardware retailer to know I’m married, so the store doesn’t have data revealing that.
The store knows what I bought, though, and they know I live in the area. I’m a regular customer and I received loyalty points with my purchase. To most consumers this is a pretty transparent value exchange. It gets even more valuable when I receive an email with a 15% discount on paint brushes. I could use some new ones, so I order some online and do a quick pickup at the store.
This is all possible because of identity resolution, which connects, analyzes and transforms fragmented data, resulting in a more accurate and persistent view of the customer journey. Identity is what it lays the foundation for more impactful, friction-free customer relationships.
Here’s an example of how identity is beneficial for consumers. Let’s say my wife and I are getting the home renovation bug and we’re mulling a kitchen overhaul. I give our bank a call and ask about home equity lines of credit. My wife and I have a joint account, so our bank knows we’re married. Given that they are a financial services provider, this is relevant information I’m OK with them knowing.
Identity comes into play because each brand—from my hardware store to my bank—knows only what they need to know about me. As Devon DeBlasio, I know everything about my own personal identity. But each brand only knows me through their own separate lens as a customer. The lens differs from brand to brand, and unless a consumer consents to sharing additional information that one brand already has, there is no data crossover. In this way, identity preserves my privacy by only revealing information about me that I want a given brand to know.
The pandemic has compelled many brands to take a step back and reevaluate marketing strategies. They might also consider using this time of flux to rethink how they communicate consumer privacy and identity within their organizations and in consumer-facing communications. Advancements in identity resolution are positive for consumers—let’s help spread that message.
—Devon DeBlasio, Product Marketing Director, Neustar