PaymentWeek Q&A with Brian Ward, VP Marketing and Strategy, Experian Partner Solutions

December 4, 2018         By: Michael Millington

With the holiday season coming up and the recent rash of information breaches, do you think online shopping will be as prominent as it has been in the past?


Data breaches don’t seem to sway consumers away from shopping online, especially if they can get a good deal. This was evident as shoppers spent $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday, up 19.3% from last year, which is a record and one of the largest e-commerce days for the country (according to according to Adobe Analytics). Our survey findings show that millennials and African American consumers will do most of their shopping online, either through a computer or mobile device. Some Hispanic and millennials consumers, along with those who have higher incomes, would actually risk their identity being stolen for a good Cyber Monday deal. With this in mind, businesses should consider ramping up their digital communications to connect with consumers this season. Our study also reveals that consumers expect the companies they frequent to protect their data so organizations can leverage this mindset to engage and acquire customers by offering identity protection tools as well as provide education about the safest ways to make online purchases. This is a great touch point for companies to be relevant and engage consumers with their brands.


According to the Experian 2018 Holiday Survey the amount of money spent this holiday season is set to increase. Is it possible that people will buck the up-and-coming trends of shopping this holiday season (like using cash instead of credit or shopping in store instead of shopping online)?


According to our study, consumers are planning to use mostly cash this holiday season.  This could be a nod to higher consumer confidence due to an improved economy. However, we saw that online sales hit a record high so credit cards were probably heavily used vs. consumers transacting with debit cards.  In our survey, we found that Gen X tends to prefer to use cash and debit cards, while Baby Boomers are more likely to use credit cards. However, consumers’ shopping behavior may be swayed to using credit cards by last minute deals or offerings, such as a boost in loyalty rewards or a better reward for redeeming points. It’s possible that younger consumers who are trying to save more money might be more inclined to use rewards in this instance. Unexpected gifts makes up 30% of overall holiday expenses, making it the top frustration for consumers during the season, and that might also impact whether consumers shop with cash vs. credit and in-store or online.


13% of people said they would shop as normal to get a good Cyber Monday deal. Is it possible that consumers are becoming less concerned with their security as breaches become more frequent?


Certainly, there could be a more lax attitude among consumers – what we call “breach fatigue” – when it comes to data breaches. During the holiday shopping frenzy, it’s possible that consumers value getting the deal and convenience over security, particularly when there are a number of things that contribute to shopping anxiety, like dealing with long lines and crowds. Also, there is an expectation that banks and credit card issuers will protect customers during the holiday season. It will go a long way with building loyalty and retaining customers if businesses communicate to them about their security and fraud prevention practices during the holiday season.


Based on the findings within the 2018 Holiday Survey, do you think there will be more consumers that disregard security to get a good deal?


We saw a decrease in those willing to risk their identity for a good Cyber Monday deal this year (13%) from last year (16%) so that is good news. Since online sales were at a record high this year though, we may see more consumers falling prey to being a victim of identity theft from an online scam or data breach. Many consumers exhibit risky behaviors as only a little more than half surveyed say they will be vigilant when shopping online – this means shopping only on personal, protected Internet connections, checking to see if a site is secure, going to websites directly instead of clicking on links, among other proactive steps. A good way to engage with customers is by reminding them to be vigilant at all times and to practice good security habits while they shop online this holiday season.