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Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data

Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data

Data-driven marketing has been around for quite some time now i.e. using big-data processing technology to segment markets, identify target markets and develop customised marketing communications to those markets. We collect this information in various ways including but not limited to:

  • Cookies: These store small amounts of user data and helps companies to track site visitors and personalise web pages.
  • Credit or loyalty cards: Data collected from loyalty and credit cards tell retailers how many times a certain item was sold. This information can be used by marketers to target customers based on their purchase history.
  • Social media profiles: Depending on a consumer’s privacy settings, their social media profiles can give marketers a lot of information. On Facebook for instance, if a consumer’s profile is set you ‘public’ and assuming they entered the information, you could see their employment status, relationship status, interests, photos, current city, and even their political views (USA) and in some cases, contact information can be accessed.

The general opinion has been that the more information you have the better you can target your market and that consumers would happily give up this information so as to get more personalised marketing or at the very least consider it the price of access to a site or online platform.

Consumers are increasingly concerned with data privacy

However, the message we are increasingly getting from consumers is that they are becoming more aware and concerned about their data privacy. As the average consumer is becoming more tech-savvy and aware of their data privacy rights they are becoming more engaged with controlling who has access to their data and what it is being used for. This is particularly prevalent in younger generations as shown below:

Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data b

Concerns about data privacy by generation

Factual privacy survey (2019)

Specifically, the polled consumers in a survey by Factual (2019) indicated concerns in the following areas:

  • Identity theft and fraud — 72%
  • Stolen passwords — 64%
  • Not knowing what personal information is being used for — 59%
  • Information being sold for profit — 54%
  • Location tracking — 53%

Consumers want personalisation

On the flipside of the coin consumers do want a more personal and customised experience, just not as much as we thought. The same survey showed the top five places consumers wanted personalised content and the percentage who wanted it :

  • Google — 44%
  • Amazon — 42%
  • Email — 40%
  • Facebook — 39%
  • Mobile apps — 29%

It is worth noting that none of these were more than 50% 

So why the paradox?

So why is there an apparent disconnect between consumers wanting a personalised experience and not wanting to divulge the personal information that makes it possible? The answer lies in the perception of who benefits from the personal data. Roughly 63% of consumers believe that brands benefit from consumer data collection and only 44% believe that consumers do:

Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data C

Factual privacy survey (2019)

What this means is that the majority of consumers don’t believe providing their personal data improves their experience or benefits them in any meaningful way. A further revelation is that consumers are more willing to give personal data depending on the type of site/app requesting it:

Types of companies that consumers comfortable sharing data with

Consumers are demanding more control over their personal data D

Factual privacy survey (2019)

What does it all mean?

This survey along with others are clearly indicating that consumers are increasingly viewing their personal data as an asset that has value and must be safeguarded from those who will misuse it but can be traded for benefits. Consumers want to know who is getting the information, what it is being used for and how it will benefit them. Therefore, in order to succeed in gathering data from these weary consumers, brands and marketers are going to have to be more transparent about what they are using the data for and must give consumers more control over what information they part with.

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