Consumer perceptions of Anthem slightly shift downward following data breach

In early February, Indianapolis-based Anthem reported a cyberattack in which hackers accessed the personal information for approximately 78 million individuals. In the months since the data breach was reported, the company has experienced a subtle negative shift in how consumers view the brand, according to survey results from Wedbush Securities reported by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Wedbush Securities surveyed more than 1,000 consumers online before Anthem reported the cyberattack. According to the survey, 51 percent of consumers said Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield was a better brand than other payers prior to learning of the breach, while 45 percent of consumers said the same following reports of the breach.

However, consumers responded positively to the way in which Anthem handled the cyberattack which offset the negative perceptions, according to the report. There initially was an 8-point percentage drop in consumers who viewed Anthem as a better brand before the breach. However, there was a 2-point percentage increase from consumers who did not originally think Anthem was a better brand but changed their mind after seeing how the payer handled the attack, according to the report.

The same trend rang true for consumers' willingness to pay for an Anthem plan. According to the survey, 24 percent of consumers were willing to pay more for an Anthem plan before the breach, but just 21 percent were willing to pay following the breach. Seven percent of consumers who were not originally willing to pay more for an Anthem plan changed their mind due to how Anthem handled the attack.

"The willingness to pay for the Anthem brand actually increased after the breach," according to Sara James, an analyst with Wedbush. "We believe this could reflect the awareness of the younger exchange population to the proliferation of data breaches following hacking attacks on many large corporations and the willingness to pay more for a service that addresses the breach quickly and effectively."

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