Most Adults Doubt Real Privacy Is Possible

A large majority (80%) of adults ages 20-40 in the U.S. and U.K. believe that total privacy is basically impossible in today’s digital world, according to a new survey of 2,012 consumers in that age range conducted by Accenture in both countries in March and April of this year. An even higher proportion (87%) said they don’t believe adequate safeguards are in place to protect their private information. Furthermore 70% of respondents don’t believe businesses are transparent about how their personal information being is used. 

Meanwhile Web site tracking continues to be a concern with the majority of consumers, but these anxieties may be on the wane: in the 2014 survey 64% said they are concerned about their buying behaviors being tracked online, down from 85% in 2012. A sizeable proportion (40%) estimated that less than 10% of their personal information is actually private.

However all this doesn’t necessarily mean consumers have negative attitudes towards digital tracking technology -- provided they get something in return.

Indeed, 49% of respondents in the same survey said they wouldn’t mind having their buying behaviors tracked if they could get more relevant offers from brands and retailers as a result. And 64% of consumers surveyed said when they are in a store they would welcome text messages from that specific retailer with offers geared to their individual consumption preferences.

In terms of devices, the survey found that U.S. and U.K. adults ages 20-40 are fully as connected as you’d expect, owning an average of three to four digital devices, with 27% own more than four devices. Respondents said they spent an average of around six hours a day using a digital device for personal activities, including texting (48%), emailing (39%), checking the news (27%), and shopping online (20%).

Respondents also had clear preferences in terms of how they receive communications from companies: 93% said they preferred email, followed by social media at 47% and texting at 44%. A mere 25% said they are comfortable receiving phone calls.

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