We usually regard marketing and security as two functions in an enterprise that are the furthest apart in the corporate space and without any real influence on each other. Moreover, we actually usually see security and marketing as two concepts that completely contradict each other.
Is it really so? We deter criminals and terrorist by advertising security; we get support and funding by “selling” security to stakeholders in our organisation; we use marketing principles and tools to get all the employees in our company to actively participate in our security efforts, we advertise the feeling of being secured so that our customers would confidently use, and continue using, our product or service and finally, we profit from it.
Security is a Basic Human Need
Security is one of the basic human needs and an important particular that influences the perception and decision of consumers. While the need for security and, consequently, the importance of security in our everyday activities and decisions is growing, companies continuously fail to use the opportunity to attract consumers and tackle sales by using the value that their security adds to the product and the entire business. Actually, security plays an important role in all of the 4P of Marketing (Product, Promotion, Place and Price). Security doesn’t only protect the Product but also shapes it; As one of the primary human needs, the concept of security can assist in Promotion; Security protects the Place, whether physical or virtual where actual sales can happen and ensures that the product will be where and when it is needed; Finally, as risk and price depend on each other, security, or lack of security will influence the price of the product. Risks always exist, someone always needs to address them, and they always cost money. The question is if it will be us that will address risks or leave it to the client to deal with them. That is why price is almost always an indicator of risks. High price of a product shows that a company is trying to compensate for the risks that it is taking. On the other hand, low prices are a sign for consumers that they are taking a bigger risk when purchasing the product. Attractability does not equal lower prices. If we do nothing but compete on price, we are certainly selling ourselves short.
Moreover, it can be exactly security that could be the prevailing factor in ruling out the competition.
Many studies that analyze the motivation of consumers put security at the top of the list of human needs that are essential to all selling, whether face-to-face or in advertisements. Most marketing communications appeal to one or more of these desires:
Sexual and romantic drives
Love of beauty
Play and relaxation
Physical pleasure and comfort
Love of others
While security is namely one of the needs, it is the essential ingredient of many of other listed desires. Security is basically the assurance of possession, health, comfort and relaxation. It is emotions that sell, and fear and remedy against it are even more successful than sex or desire in triggering emotions. It goes without saying that we would be more keen to prepare for the approaching hurricane than for the upcoming Fashion Week.
What is Marketing?
Marketing could be simply defined as a professional effort of satisfying the needs of consumers for products, service and agendas better than the competition and in a profitable manner by using the 4P of Marketing. I also like to define Marketing as focused placement of stimulating information aimed at achieving a goal by engineering the emotions, behavior and decisions of targeted groups. In order to influence the emotions and decisions, marketing professionals require proficiency with the primary needs of the groups that they want to reach. We can divide needs into two concepts: consumers’ real needs and perceived needs. One of the most common models of marketing aimed at engineering the perception of need is Fear Marketing that is based on pointing out the (often false or exaggerated) consequences of not using a certain product or agenda. Fear Marketing is often used for political marketing, in health awareness campaigns, but also for advertising a wide variety of products. Probably the oldest and the most successful use of Fear Marketing is in advertising and spreading religious beliefs. Still we rarely use Fear Marketing when fear is legitimate and there actually could be real consequences for the consumer as result of not using certain product or service. Basically, even when our product is safer, or can improve safety, we rarely use it in our marketing efforts to attract consumers and discredit the competition, apart from occasionally advertising our commitment to comply with environment, health and safety standards in order to emphasize the quality of the product and our social responsibility. On the other hand, Fear Marketing sometimes simply emphasises what the consumers already know.
Actual Risks and the Feeling of Being at Risk
Why are Zombie apocalypse preparation books bestsellers and why is there a growing demand for “Zombie proof” equipment and apocalypse survival kits? In order to analyze the actual marketing and sales potential of security, we must first try to reach the conclusion about the importance of security in our routine and especially the role that it plays in the decisions that we make. However, we have to go beyond analyzing only the existing or probable risks and their remedy. We can also divide security in two concepts, actual security and the feeling of being secure. Moreover, risk is also two different concepts: being at risk and feeling threatened. Basically, the perception of risk and the feeling of security do not necessarily always match actual risks and actual security. While our understanding of the real threats and actual security depends on our firsthand experience, the feeling of being at risks and the feeling of being secure depends mostly on the information that we are exposed to, whether they are funded or not.
The Bond between Sales and Security
There’s no doubt that for a business to exist, it needs sales. Sales equal revenue, and revenue means the business can operate. It is naturally the final step in the value chain and the reason why a business operates in the first place. Security is certainly vital in assisting sales in its mission to get the product to the consumer. However, when assessing the ways in which security supports sales, we usually don’t think beyond its role in physically securing the Supply Chain, protecting the product in Retail and safeguarding the integrity of the brand. We basically mostly get stuck in comprehending the physical support that security provides to sales without thinking about how the concepts of security can contribute to the concept of selling. We’ve already established that security contributes to all the 4P of Marketing. Naturally, sales uses the channels created by marketing to supply the product or service to the consumer.
Would it be possible to combine visibility and security and produce winning results for both security and marketing, and consequently sales? Although mostly not intentionally, and certainly not in a coordinated manner, marketing and sales professionals often actually use security to raise the perceived value of a product while security measures unintentionally raise its marketing appeal. I like to call this occurrence “The Display Cabinet Phenomenon”. Basically, when evaluating the value of an item that is openly displayed and easily accessible on a point of sale, and the value of the same exact item that is locked in a display cabinet, consumers will typically assess the value of the protected item as being higher. The principle of display cabinet is also used as an aid in Asymmetric Dominance marketing. Basically displaying certain merchandise in a cabinet will give the consumers the feeling of bargain when compared to other merchandise that have the same price but are openly displayed. Although to marketing and sales professionals this occurrence is solely the result of the directed focus and added perception of value through presented luxury and uniqueness, I believe that luxury, uniqueness and security are actually complementing concepts. Firstly, the fact that an item is luxurious naturally classifies it as exclusive and less accessible.
Security and Reliability
Apart from uniqueness and luxury, security is also a synonym for reliability. In general, for consumers, a higher price equals luxury which is the outcome of the combination of brand, performance and reliability. So, while the quality of performance of the product is directly related to its purpose, reliability addresses the quality of its other features that are not necessarily visible, such as safety and security. Basically, as consumers, we expect all the elements of a product to follow the price. When we buy an expensive electrical appliance, we buy a brand, better performance, and more attractive design. However, we also naturally expect the product to be proportionally safer than its cheaper alternative. On the example of FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) or, for instance branded clothing, the higher the price, the more we believe that security is part of the reliability of the product and that, as such, there is less chance that it is not genuine or altered. By highlighting security, companies are actually adding value to the reliability of products and to the perception of quality.
Security Technology in Marketing and Business Analytics
Many namely security systems that we use only for security can be extremely valuable for other business tasks, such as for instance Business Analytics, Cost Controls, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Moreover, numerous systems that we consider to be traditional utilities when used for security would be innovative and advanced when used for core business, like measuring, analyzing, advertising, selling, and even improving the experience of customers in retail. We all know the importance of the protective role of security technology for businesses. However, technological inventions that were primarily designed and used as security aides are becoming unavoidable business tools. For example, the use of access control software for the purpose of administration, such as controlling time and attendance, has become an essential part of HR (Human Resources) analysis and management while it is almost impossible to stumble upon a company whose supply chain does not use the GPS (Global Positioning System) technology to analyze and optimize delivery routes and lower fuel consumption. In recent years Internet Protocol Closed Circuit Television (IP CCTV) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology are taking retail chains by storm. Large retail organizations are switching from barcodes to RFID in order to simplify and speed-up processes but also because of the numerous other advantages of RFID for targeted marketing, sales and business analysis. Moreover, with the invention of IP CCTV and the development of its analytical software, video surveillance turned into a complex system with the ability to analyze the behavior, movement patterns, and shopping habits of consumers.