Data Breach Survey: Consumers hold retailers responsible, second only to criminals | Brunswick Group
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Data Breach Survey: Consumers hold retailers responsible, second only to criminals

Majority believe that retailers should be financially responsible for fraudulent charges One third of consumers stopped shopping at certain retailers, based on data breach concerns.

NEW YORK, JUNE 12, 2014 – While retailers, banks and card issuers debate who is responsible for data breaches at large U.S. retailers, consumers have their minds made up. A new survey by global business communications firm Brunswick Group reveals that retailers shoulder significantly more blame than banks for the theft of consumer data from their systems. 

The Brunswick survey – “Main Street vs. Wall Street: Who is to Blame for Data Breaches?” – offers rare insight into how consumers apportion responsibility for preventing data breaches. The findings show widespread consumer worry around retail data breaches, and a strong belief that retailers are not doing enough to protect customer information. Moreover, consumers are heading to the exits – with a significant number changing their buying habits. Among the survey’s key findings:

  • Ninety-four percent of consumers surveyed are concerned about retail data breaches.
  • Consumers are nearly as likely to hold retailers responsible for data breaches (61 percent) as the criminals themselves (79 percent). Only 34 percent blame the banks that issue debit and credit cards.
  • Seventy-five percent believe that retailers are not doing enough to prevent infiltrations into their customer data and payment systems.
  • Seventy percent of respondents believe that retailers should be held financially responsible for consumer losses that result from a breach; not banks or card issuers.
  • Finally – and most troubling – 34 percent of those surveyed report that they no longer shop at a specific retailer due to a past data breach issue.

The impact of a data breach extends beyond consumer buying habits, to the retailer’s valuation. Brunswick’s analysis shows that of 13 companies that recently experienced a large data breach, each experienced a sustained drop in their average daily stock price. On average, six months after a breach, company valuation has not yet rebounded to pre-breach value.

“A data breach hits a company at the cash register, on Wall Street and at the heart of their relationship with the customer,” said Mark Seifert, Partner at Brunswick Group. “If consumers don’t feel the retailer is doing enough to protect their data, they will protect themselves by shopping elsewhere.”

Brandon Borrman, Partner at Brunswick Group, added, “It is no longer acceptable for retailers to look to banks and issuers to protect customers; instead, the onus is on retailers to address the issue head on in their security systems.” He continued, “What is clear is that the traditional approach to addressing the inevitable data breach, no longer works. Consumers, press and regulators expect more transparency and clarity, and companies must be prepared.” 

About the Survey

The survey, “Insight Analysis of Major Data Breaches at Publicly Traded Companies – Main Street vs. Wall Street: Who is to Blame for Data Breaches?” was distributed by Brunswick Insight to a nationally proportionate sample of 750 U.S. consumers online on January 24, 2014. Brunswick Insight is Brunswick’s specialist opinion research practice, focusing on understanding the views of opinion formers around the world. For more information on this survey, as well as the corresponding infographic, please visit

About Brunswick Group

Brunswick Group is a private partnership with a growing team of more than 700 people, including over 100 partners around the world. The firm has grown organically since it was established in 1987 and currently has 22 wholly owned offices in 13 countries. Brunswick is the global leader in financial and corporate communications, and provides senior counsel to clients around the globe on critical issues that affect reputation, valuation and business success. The firm's service offer comprises corporate and financial communications, investor relations, internal communications and perception research. Brunswick operates offices in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Dallas, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Stockholm, Sao Paulo, Vienna and Washington DC.


Katie Ioanilli
Brunswick Group
[email protected]
(212) 333-3810

Lauren Nadig
Brunswick Group
[email protected]
(214) 254-3790