man-in-bottle-on-phone-310-x-400-2All the major carriers are likely to soon offer a family or communal data pricing package; the mobile wireless industry is becoming increasingly commoditized and competitors must match one another’s offers. So how can a carrier differentiate its brand? One possible answer would be to address some of the other needs that global consumers expressed in our Truth About the Mobile Economy study.

A huge opportunity we found for mobile carriers is personal data privacy and network security. Globally, 39% of consumers said “more device security” was one of their top wishes for the future of mobile. In the US this was the number-two concern at 37%. Globally, security was actually ahead of “more/cheaper unlimited data plans” at 35% (49% in the US).

We found that consumers are looking specifically to wireless carriers for assurance. When we asked consumers “Who has the most responsibility for ensuring personal privacy is protected when using mobile devices?” the top answer was “the user themselves” at 41% (56% in the US). But the second most popular answer was “the mobile network/service provider” at 25% (23% in US). Consumers are expecting their network provider to do more to ensure personal data privacy than device manufacturers, mobile operating system developers, or application developers.

This is prime territory for brand communications and advertising. While there is real demand for cheaper and more varied data plans, carriers have all been competing based on the “largest” or “fastest” or 4G LTE network. Nobody is differentiating in terms of data protection and privacy. Perhaps the best brands will soon be saying “the largest and most secure network,” giving them an edge with nearly ¼ of today’s savvy mobile consumers.

This strategy may also benefit wireless carriers in the future as they roll out even more data options. One key goal of the carriers is to have consumers connected to their data networks with more than one device per person. As our cars, tablets, running shoes and more come with embedded mobile Internet capabilities, each individual will be buying more data to be shared across a number of his or her devices. With more personal data being generated and transmitted, it becomes even more important to provide security and personal privacy protections. For carriers to standout, either now or in the next wave of innovation, security and privacy have a key role to play in their product development and brand communication strategy.