Data Privacy. A Competitive Advantage?


By Susan Getgood



I have always been interested in the intersection of public policy, business outcomes and consumer interest. While I didn’t set out to weave this interest into my career, I largely have worked at the leading (and sometimes bleeding) edge of the Internet, digital and social media, so it sort of worked out that way. Internet safety, personal privacy, email regulation, HIPAA, FTC endorsement guidelines, FDA advertising regulations, net neutrality.

And now data privacy. From GDPR and the California Privacy Law to the European e-privacy directive, I have been deeply interested in both the challenges and opportunities of data privacy. I wrote some posts on the topic last spring as the GDPR deadline approached in May 2018. Short version: as consumers care more and more about data privacy, innovation incorporating best practices for privacy could become a significant competitive advantage.

As the conversation swirled around the new rules and their impact, I then collaborated with my colleagues in the Marketing & Communications Research Center of The Conference Board, where I am a Senior Fellow, to field a research project to explore executive attitudes toward privacy, innovation and regulation as a indicator of how businesses might respond as stricter laws such as California and the e-privacy directive (which impacts use of cookies) take effect. We don’t have a crystal ball, and can’t truly assess the impact of future events, but we can gain a better understanding of how people think and how those opinions might impact their decision-making.

The research paper, authored by me, Innovate or Hunker Down: What Executives Think about Data Privacy, Security, and Regulation, was published last week and is available for free download from The Conference Board .


  • Organizations value data privacy and security, in no small part because consumers increasingly value them.

  • Compliance is part of company marketing messaging; however, few companies are deploying innovation around regulatory needs as a competitive advantage.

  • Attitudes shared in this survey offer evidence that corporate responses may shift to place higher value on innovation, but the driving force will most likely be consumer expectations, rather than a proactive response in anticipation of consumer demands.

We have some examples in the paper, but if you have case studies or anecdotes, either of companies that have successfully innovated in the face of regulation or that have eliminated products or services in the face of compliance challenges, please drop me a note at

Originally published on Marketing Roadmaps.