Marketers face challenges in explaining to consumers how the brands they buy from use data to personalize their experiences.
When asked whether personalization improves the digital experience, 39% agreed, while 37% were indifferent and the remainder disagreed, according to data released Wednesday from Factual.
The same pattern occurs when consumers are asked whether personalized content helps them discover new products. Fifty-three percent of respondents agree that personalized content helps them find products, while only 16% of respondents disagree.
The report — Consumers & Data Privacy Perceptions — shows that 24% of the 1,002 survey respondents in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 65 were least comfortable sharing their data to get personalized experiences in social networking sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Overall, consumers across all generations prefer to see personalized content on Google, Amazon, and Facebook, as well as in emails.
Factual commissioned the University of Southern California, MS in Applied Psychology Program (USC MAPP) to explore consumer sentiment and behavior around data privacy and the use of data to personalize advertising.
Some 32% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that they would share information about themselves to receive personalized content, and 36% are indifferent.
The total number jumps to 73% for Millennials — 36% agree and 37% are indifferent — and 72% for Gen Z, where 35% agree and 37% are indifferent, demonstrating that younger generations who grew up in a digital world are more willing to share data for proven benefits.
The data suggests that consumers have become more aware of how their data is used to provide a variety of experiences. Some 59% say their data is used to provide targeted advertising and offers, while 47% say the data is used to deliver relevant search results; 42%, to help companies better understand their users; 40%, to create personalized product experiences; and 28%, to improve public safely products and initiatives.
The study points to several reasons -- including that consumers are now paying more attention to terms and conditions on apps, and they take the time to learn how to control the setting on their mobile devices and on social media.
Some 49% of respondents said they learned how to adjust their privacy setting on their mobile phone, while 48% said they can now adjust privacy settings on social media, 46% said they are paying closer attention to privacy agreements, 41% said they adjusted location sharing settings, 29% used an ad blocker, 27% disabled cookies, and 13% provided false information to companies.
Typically education fosters a sense of security, yet only 34% say they either strongly agree or somewhat agree when asked whether they are comfortable sharing their location data for marketing purposes. And only 34% are aware of how their location data is used, which indicated there’s still a lack of understanding.
Some 72% of those participating in the study have concerns, including 64% who cite stolen passwords; 59% who say they don't know how their personal information is used; 54% who are concerned that information is sold for profit; 53% who are concerned about using the data for location tracking; 53% who worry about not knowing how their online personal information is collected.
When it comes to location data, 53% of survey participants are most concerned with identify theft and fraud and their home address being obtained. Some 56% are concerned about not knowing how their location data is being used and 48% say they have concerns over digital or physical harm as a result of their location information being illegally obtained.
Consumers define personal information as home address, phone number, birth date, location data, email, name, messages send via messaging apps, work address, and online or mobile browsing habits.
While the majority of consumers surveyed admit to having some concerns around data privacy, 20% are not concerned, while 6% aren’t concerned at all and 14% are neutral on the issue.
Baby Boomers, a group who grew into the digital economy, are the most concerned about their data privacy, with 76% saying they are either somewhat or very concerned. No surprise that younger generations — Gen Z and Millennials — a group who were born during the advent of the digital economy, are less concerned about data privacy and are more willing to share data, especially if it will benefit them by providing an improved experience.