Mark Evans: “The consumer is our boss”

“The consumer is our boss”

Data privacy and trust have been two of the hottest topics in 2022, driven partly by the ongoing saga around third-party cookie deprecation. As an industry, we must focus on these topics and put the protection of consumer data and their privacy first.

In the latest episode of our Identity Architects podcast, InfoSum's VP Sales, Nick Henthorn, sat down with Mark Evans, Managing Director for Marketing & Digital at Direct Line, to discuss identity, data privacy, consumer trust, and more.

"I spent 10 years at Mars where there were 5 principles that guided everything and the very first words which are sort of ingrained inside your eyelids if you spend a bit of time at Mars said ‘the consumer is our boss’ and that was really heartfelt and that permeated everything. So it just seems to me so inherent that is fundamentally true for a sustainable business in all senses of the word sustainable."

We could not agree more. Companies need to be sustainable in every way - not just eco-friendly but cherishing their customers’ data and the trust placed in them in return for a fair value exchange. 

“It's a very delicate balance between privacy and personalization. As I said, the beautiful irrationality of consumers. [...] There's a bit of instinct about where an organization should tread that fine line to strike the right balance and one of the challenges, therefore, of the CMO in marketing, is to help the rest of the organization to understand some of these things and it's a bit like educating the organization.”

And talking from experience, Mark discussed the importance of the marketing function being the representative of their customers:

“And as consumers change and evolve as they surely do and will, it's the role of the marketing folks in the organization to bring the outside in and bring the future forward and help an organization understand how it can meet customer needs better than their competitors. [...] It's just so intrinsic that marketing is not the communication function. It's the consumer representative.”

And to be able to do that, we need consumers to trust us with their data!

“Rachel Botsman's definition of trust [...] is that trust is a comfortable relationship with the unknown, i.e., transparency is actually the enemy. If you need transparency, you don't really trust somebody. [...] Trust is easily broken, and because then all of a sudden, I'm no longer confident when I can't see, And therefore, I may seek more transparency, and that's almost the worst thing, isn't it? You know, it's so evident really when somebody says I need to know more, they're actually saying I don't trust you. I think Rachel's really nailed that particular dynamic.”

And so, the question is, how can we change that? How can companies gain consumer trust?

“Clearly, the answer is to empower customers to have the right level of control with minimum complexity. [...] And actually, that's not easy because obviously the more control you provide, the more complex it is for the customer to manage something. So if you're really going to impact customers, it's got to be really really basic. [...] Keep it simple.”

Thanks, Mark, for the chat!

And if you want to listen to more data privacy talks, check out our Chairman and CEO Brian Lesser on stage at Web Summit, talking about privacy as the next step in the ESG evolution.