Mobile will continue to outpace PC/desktop usage in 2015, and marketing leaders who have embraced the shift to mobile will be taking a “sophisticated approach that focuses on how to activate mobile experiences.” Whether a business is optimised for mobile will likely become a brand differentiator, and Forrester Research has predicted that next year most brands will underinvest in mobile, and as a result we will see their brands lagging behind.
However for leading disruptive technology giants such as Uber, Facebook and Google that have been leagues ahead in prioritising and creating unique mobile customer experiences, growing privacy concerns left unaddressed will only continue to damage their brand in the new year. Uber in particular has received a torrent of bad publicity over the past month, after Buzzfeed reported that their senior vice president Emil Michael was considering spending $1 million to “dig up dirt on its critics in the media.” CNET.com also noted that Uber has been rumoured to track the rides of its customers, in violation of their own privacy rules.
According to Altimeter Group principal analyst Brian Solis:
“Most consumers don’t care about negative publicity, however they do care about privacy and customer experience and if negative publicity gathers momentum on those fronts, Uber will have a major problem.”
A company that has experienced rapid global reach thanks to their customer’s loyalty and a very successful referral program could very well end up driving users away if they repeatedly fail to publically address user privacy concerns. According to CNET.com, Uber’s main competitors Lyft and Sidecar have both noted an increase in business over the week Emil Michael’s comments were made public on Buzzfeed. Medium.com’s James Losey suggests the company’s brand values will be severely marked down if fans no longer believe Uber is serious about privacy protection, as “this trust is undermined through how the company uses data of user trips and the behavior of drivers.”
An early player in the mobile sphere- the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat has also received backlash for their privacy violations this year, held by the Federal Trade Commission to have made “several misrepresentations to consumers about the app’s security and privacy.” With data security and privacy at the heart of Snapchat’s brand promise, this demonstrates key challenges for marketers working with disruptive technologies to keep their brand image intact. It’s clear that the ability of mobile apps to protect the data of it’s users will help define and differentiate brands next year, and as we have seen with Uber and Facebook- what the company then does with your personal data will also be closely monitored by wary consumers across the globe.
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