Data Hermits: Consumers Are Wary About Sharing Information, Study Finds

Most Americans are nervous about privacy, so much so that some are even scared to share personal data with healthcare providers according to the 2020 Consumer Trust and Data Privacy Report, a study by Privitar, a data privacy platform.  

Of the consumers surveyed, 42% will not supply names, email addresses, phone numbers and sensitive information to businesses for any reason. 

Think about that — if true, it means that almost half of the population is off limits to ecommerce.  

Worse, only 21% would share health data for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes. And only 27% will provide it to fuel advances in care and research. 

In general, 51% are uncomfortable even when they do share data.

Moreover, 33% are particularly nervous about having data stolen in a breach and 26% sweat about data being provided to a third party. 

Perhaps more alarmingly for businesses, almost three-fourths want government privacy oversight — 35% at the federal level, 10% by states or local jurisdictions and 22% from either. But 27% maintain the government shouldn’t get involved. 



Despite all this, the report contains more positive nuances. For example, consumers will provide data to receive: 

  • Discounts/deals — 34% 
  • More personalized offerings — 22%
  • Updates/notices and relevant products and services — 20%

On the health front, 42% will give up information to receive more personalized care. Another 30% will do so to predict a predisposition to illness, and 29% will do so to fast-track appointments/services. 

But overall, only small percentages of consumers are willing to submit data to these types of businesses: 

  • Healthcare businesses and providers — 32%
  • Retailers — 16% 
  • Banks, insurance and financial institutions — 16% 
  • Travel and hospitality businesses — 15% 
  • Streaming cable providers — 11%

We wonder about some of these numbers—some of us reveal details about ourselves to these entities every day without thinking about it.

That’s the paradox here: while 75% are concerned about personal data security, they seem to take little responsibility for it.  

For instance, 28% admit they never read privacy notices, and 42% only skim them. And 43% have no idea if they have done business with a firm hit by a data breach.

Here’s the good news: that many consumers are loyal to brands that share their values. They respond well to: 

  • Trustworthiness — 40%
  • Customer service — 30% 
  • Commitment to protecting my data — 37% 
  • Loyalty program — 22% 
  • Social responsibility — 20% 

The lesson is that brands can use data security and privacy as a differentiator, the study notes.

The lesson is that brands can use data security and privacy as a differentiator, the study notes. Brands need to “focus on building and maintaining this trust, starting first and foremost with protecting customer data,” states Jason du Preez, CEO and co-founder of Privitar.

He adds that “as more businesses utilize the cloud to enable data-driven insights, a firm commitment to data privacy will help to ensure long-term loyalty, consumer satisfaction and shareholder value.”


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