What, Me Worry? The Rise Of The Data Unconcerneds

There’s a growing attitude among consumers as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDP) is about to hit: We just don’t care. That’s the main finding of Data Privacy: What The Consumer Really Thinks, a study done by the UK DMA with Acxiom. 

The number of people worried about online privacy has dropped from 84% in 2012 to 75% in 2017. And the decline is even more precipitous among Millennials in the 18-24 age category: Only 58% are worried.

Granted, these are still hefty percentages, not to be ignored But the study identifies a whole new cohort: The Data Unconcerneds.

Those are the people who really don’t give a hoot. They now constitute 25% of the population — up from 16% in 2012 — and are the fastest-growing sector.

In contrast, the percentage of Data Pragmatists — those who will make trade-offs on a case-by-case basis — is at 50%, down from 53% in 2012.

Why the shift? People increasingly see “the exchange of personal information as essential for the smooth running of modern society.” Those who think that way now make up over half of the population, up from 38% in 2012.



Data Pragmatists, who will make tradeoffs on a case-by-case basis, are 50% down from 53%. And the Data Fundamentalists, who refuse to share personal data even in return for improved service, are down from 31% in 2012 to 25% last year. However, the percentage has risen a percentage point from 2015. 

Here’s a finding that should warm the hearts of email service providers: 43% will hare personal information in return for free access to email, compared with 34% who will share for messaging apps and 33% for social networks.

More incredibly, 28% will pay for access to email. (Are you reading this, Gmail?) That’s second, however, to the 35% who will pay for TV/movie streaming services.

So what prompts consumers to share information, beyond access to email? For 54%, it’s trust in the organization, down from 58% in 2015.

In contrast, the desire to get higher value goods for a lower price rose from 30% in 2015 to 32% last year. And improved service went from 18% to 21% in the same time period.

It also helps if the organization is transparent: That factor is rated highly by 88%, and 87% say they like benefits for sharing data to be explicit at the start. Here are the other considerations: 

  • The terms and conditions are easy to read and understand — 67%
  • A flexible privacy policy that allows me to control the types and amount of data I wish to share — 85%

And, it turns out, consumers prefer these incentives:

  • Direct financial reward (e.g., cash payments) — 57%
  • Loyalty points — 51%
  • Entirely free products or services — 50%
  • Discounted products or services — 48%
  • Signing a petition for a political/charitable cause — 037%
  • Access to exclusive events — 37%

The DMA and Acxiom surveyed 1,047 consumers in the UK only. But we bet U.S. shoppers are similar. So the lesson is clear: Want to get information from customers?. You need to be a trusted brand, transparent about data use and benefits, and you have to provide rewards.

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