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Consumer Brands Must Ditch Passwords; Find Future in Biometrics

Originally featured on MarTech Advisor,

Jason Rose, SVP of Marketing, Gigya guides marketers to implement easy to use, secure and permission-based password and identification methods for customers for better marketing results

Consumers have always had, and continue to have, terrible password habits. A new survey of 4,000 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K. by Gigya, commissioned by, reinforces consumer disdain for passwords. For marketers to be effective and to thrive in today’s digital business environment, consumer-brand companies must eschew traditional login methods and prepare for the death of the password.

Consumers, Especially Millennials, Have Terrible Password Habits

The way in which consumers manage their passwords directly impacts how vulnerable they are to cyber-criminal hacks. LeakedSource, a database that allows consumers to see whether or not security breaches have compromised their personal data, collected information from the 2012 LinkedIn breach. The website found that the password “123456” was chosen by 753,305 registered users. As further validation of consumers’ loose password habits, the Gigya survey found only 16 percent of respondents actually follow password best practices, and 56 percent use passwords that they consciously know are not secure, such as “12345”-type passwords and those that include their names or birthdates.

The study also shed light on generational differences. Baby Boomers take a proactive approach when it comes to protecting their identities; 53 percent of Baby Boomers never generate an easy-to-remember password, compared to 33 percent of millennials who prefer easy-to-remember over secure passwords. Consumer password habits are so insecure that only 25 percent of respondents took the time to create complicated passwords for their financial-institution accounts. Overall, it’s evident that consumers simply prefer to be done with these cumbersome, insecure logins and passwords.

Brands Must Wave Farewell to Passwords

In exchange for their personal data, consumers expect increasingly personalized and secure experiences. Businesses, however, struggle to to protect consumer information and are not able to provide the secure experiences consumers demand. This dichotomy is helping to bid farewell to traditional username-and-password security practices.

Instead, consumers prefer more innovative security techniques. The same survey found that 52 percent of respondents prefer to log in to their online accounts through a modern authentication method, like biometric authentication: fingerprint scanning, voice recognition, facial recognition or iris scanning technology, for example. In fact, 80 percent of consumers who expressed a preference believe biometric authentication is more secure than traditional usernames and passwords.

By not addressing the demand for more robust security measures, consumer brands risk losing customers who want to avoid the hassle of creating new accounts and remembering login and password details. Brands that do not adopt modern security solutions will ultimately lose opportunities for customized marketing campaigns, customer engagement and customer loyalty. Forward-looking brands, such as Google and Apple, are already spearheading a password farewell. Google recently announced its plan to phase out the password in Android devices, and Apple is rumored to be adding a Touch ID sensor to the new MacBook Pro.

Brands Must Meet Consumer Demand; Reap Benefits of Data

In order for businesses to access rich, first-party data about their customer base to enrich marketing efforts, they must offer methods that address today’s consumer needs: password and identification methods that are easy to use, secure and permission-based. By having accurate customer data, marketers are equipped with the intelligence they need to become relevant to their customers and achieve better marketing results. It’s time for consumer brands to consider longevity and look beyond logins and passwords as their “go-to” method of identification.

By Jason Rose

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