Experian's Newest CMO Aims to Focus on Consumers

Kristen Simmons Will Appeal to Those Worried about Security and Fraud

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Kristen Simmons
Kristen Simmons

Experian's newest CMO comes into her role at a significant time for consumer-aimed data security services. Kristen Simmons began her work as chief marketer for Experian Consumer Services in December, at a time when high profile data breaches -- Anthem Health is only the latest big one -- have brought the concept of credit fraud, identity protection and security breaches to the fore among consumers.

A recent Experian investor report noted that market forces are driving the firm to focus on "putting consumers at the heart of our business."

Ms. Simmons affirmed that notion in an email exchange with Ad Age, noting, "I was asked to join the Experian team as a result of the organization's search for a new marketing executive with success in the consumer space and a huge passion for the customer."

Not only are consumers interested in arming themselves against fraud that could occur as a result of breaches, firms that have experienced data leaks have offered these services for free to those affected. But Experian hasn't scored all those deals. While the company offers credit monitoring to consumers hit by the Target breach through Experian's ProtectMyID product, Home Depot and Anthem chose AllClear ID to provide such services after their attacks.

As CMO of the division, Ms. Simmons will lead strategic direction, development and execution of marketing for Experian consumer services in North America. The firm's consumer services division, which encompasses consumer credit-monitoring services and identity-theft protection, accounts for 22% of its business, according to a recent Experian investor report. In the six months ending Sept. 30, 2014, North America revenue for the consumer-services division fell 12% to $372 million compared to that period in 2013.

The Martin Agency handles broadcast creative for Experian Consumer Services, according to an Experian spokesperson, who said the firm would not disclose marketing expenditures.

Experian is shifting emphasis from acquiring new customers to expanding on services it provides to current customers, said Ms. Simmons. "We're evolving our focus from acquisition to building value over a customer's relationship with Experian. And that includes not only our current members but all consumers who want to better understand credit and ways to make more informed decisions that can enhance their financial health."

In the past, she has served in senior marketing positions at Mazda North America, Ford Motor Company and Young and Rubicam. Most recently she was partner at customer experience consultancy Lightswitch.

Ms. Simmons is based in the Experian Consumer Services headquarters in Costa Mesa, Calif.

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