Shoppers might hesitate the next time a cashier asks for their phone number or they're prompted to enter an email address to register for a promotion, following news that as many as 70 million Target customers might have had personal information stolen in a massive data breach.
It's a serious blow to retailers, especially as they rely more on loyalty program participation to drive sales and gather data about their customer base.
"Consumers definitely already have concerns about sharing data," said Emily Collins, an analyst with Forrester Research. "From a consumer perspective, perception is the reality," she said. "Consumers generally are most concerned about phishing scams and their identity being stolen."
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Experts in loyalty marketing say other retailers are keeping a wary eye on the still-unfolding Target saga and the impact it could have on consumer perceptions of loyalty programs in general.