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Balancing customer privacy, secrets, and surveillance: Insights and management


  • Plangger, Kirk
  • Watson, Richard T.


As surveillance technology advances and becomes more data rich and less intrusive and costly, brands collect vast quantities of customer data in order to gain customer insights to remain competitive. Brands conduct customer surveillance often without considering the consequences on customer relationships. Because of customer surveillance activities, customers may also experience privacy intrusions and turn to customer secrecy strategies that hide or disguise their data. To reduce this reaction, we propose a set of surveillance prompts to structure market intelligence databases to increase the efficiency of, and thus reduce the quantity of, customer surveillance activities while increasing data integrity and the potential value of customer insights. By discussing the need for brands to collect business and market intelligence, as well as detailing five types of customer data resources, we lay the groundwork for selecting potential customer data resources that best fit a brand's customer insight needs. We conclude with a discussion of two important considerations of a brand's customer surveillance strategy.

Suggested Citation

  • Plangger, Kirk & Watson, Richard T., 2015. "Balancing customer privacy, secrets, and surveillance: Insights and management," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 58(6), pages 625-633.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:bushor:v:58:y:2015:i:6:p:625-633
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bushor.2015.06.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fournier, Susan, 1998. " Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(4), pages 343-373, March.
    2. Piccoli, Gabriele & Brohman, M. Kathryn & Watson, Richard T. & Parasuraman, A., 2009. "Process completeness: Strategies for aligning service systems with customers' service needs," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 367-376, July.
    3. Hannah, David & Parent, Michael & Pitt, Leyland & Berthon, Pierre, 2014. "It's a secret: Marketing value and the denial of availability," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 49-59.
    4. Joseph Turow, 2008. "Niche Envy: Marketing Discrimination in the Digital Age," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262701219, January.
    5. Parent, Michael & Plangger, Kirk & Bal, Anjali, 2011. "The new WTP: Willingness to participate," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 219-229, May.
    6. Kietzmann, Jan H. & Hermkens, Kristopher & McCarthy, Ian P. & Silvestre, Bruno S., 2011. "Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 241-251, May.
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