Consumers Willing To Share Data, But At A Price

According to a new study by McCan Truth Central, consumers are concerned about "Privacy", but "privacy" is a complex, multi-dimensional issue that encompasses everything from personal, real-world snooping to sharing data online. When it comes to data sharing, though, one must unpack the issue even further, says the report.

Consumers categorize data into different categories, (e.g. shopping, location, personal, medical, and financial,) and have varying degrees of concern with sharing each type.

  • 71% of consumers indicate they are willing to share shopping data with a brand online 
  • 86% of consumers see that there are major benefits associated with sharing data with businesses online
  • 65% see one of the top two benefits as better access to discounts and promotions  

Laura Simpson, Global Director of McCann Truth Central, said, "... the study... lays out the hierarchy of privacy concerns... consumers are in favor of sharing shopping data with businesses in exchange for certain benefits, but are more cautious about sharing financial and medical data...  foremost concern must be to protect... privacy of customers... (but) smart strategy encourages responsible sharing of relevant data... “

69% of consumers globally trust banks to look after their personal data and use it wisely.  57% hold credit card companies in the same regard.  Consumers feel that financial services brands, as a group, are doing the most to protect the privacy of their data.  Globally, the top three most trusted brands included MasterCard, Visa and Microsoft.  

Banks and other financial services brands have set themselves apart from other categories because they have consistently demonstrated a commitment to data protection.   44% of consumers in the US say that banks' security controls are one of the top three reasons why banks have earned their trust, with the other two reasons being a history of dealing responsibly with data and trust that the banks will protect them in case of fraud.

For all types of companies and brands, there are four key dynamics to privacy when it comes to maintaining a proactive, productive and share-worthy relationship with consumers. The key to assurance and trust, says the report, is:

  • Control: People want to be in command of which pieces of data they share. 49% (55% US) think it is very important to have this control, reflecting their sensitivity level for different types of data
  • Choice: They also want a choice about how their data will be used. 51% (57% US) say it is important to know exactly how their data is going to be used
  • Commitment: People want a commitment from companies that their personal data (i.e., email address, phone number) won't be passed on to third parties.  55% (56% US) of people select this as one of their top 3 most important criteria when deciding to trust a brand
  • Compensation: Consumers also want compensation. They want a reason to share data, and an understanding of how they will benefit.

Amazon is the most trusted brand in the US since, more than any other brand, consumers can see how they use data to make relevant suggestions.  72% of US consumers trust Amazon to look after their data and use it wisely.

Looking at the spectrum of consumer attitudes toward privacy, McCann Truth Central identified 5 distinct segments:  

  • Eager Extroverts (15%)
  • Sunny Sharers (20%)
  • Savvy Shoppers (37%)
  • Cautious Communicators (9%)
  • Walled Worriers (19%) 

The largest group, the Savvy Shoppers, best embody a nuanced approach to this brave new world of sharing.  They are willing to engage with businesses in exchange for commitment to security and compensation in the form of discounts or preferred status.

  • 86% of all consumers globally understand that there are major benefits associated with sharing data with businesses online and shopping data is the type of data they are most willing to share (71% of consumers globally are willing to share shopping data with a brand online). For the majority (65%) one of the top two benefits is better access to discounts and promotions, a very "Savvy Shopper" mentality.

Increasingly, governments and businesses will need to recognize that privacy is a two-way street. Consumers may be willing to share more of their personal information (in order to gain benefits) but they expect a greater degree of transparency in return.

  • While 84% of consumers believe they have a total or some right to privacy, only 51% believe the same applies to the government. The government, it seems, must trade privacy for power.
  • Similarly, only 57% of consumers believe a brand or business has a right to privacy.
  • 65% of consumers say a reality TV star has a right to privacy; the other 35% might believe that star has traded his private life for fame, and maybe cash

Looking at the hierarchy of privacy concerns for consumers, anything to do with financial data tops the list.  Beyond that, consumer fears are far more personal, often related to snooping or oversights by friends, families and colleagues.  

Technology has created a more fluid and borderless world with less distinction between "public" and "private."  McCann's Truth Central found that while people have an expectation of privacy with regard to their own life, they confess to snooping in other people's business.  42% of people admit to snooping the online personal photographs of someone they hardly knew and 25% had read a friend or partner's email or text messages without them knowing.

To download more information about the study from the McCann Worldgroup, please visit here.

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