Epoch AI: Consumers Are Nervous About Privacy

Consumers are nervous about AI’s impact on their privacy, judging by Engagement to Empowerment, a new global study by Merkle.  

The respondents are concerned with: 

  • Whether your data and privacy identity is being protected — 58%
  • Whether the technology could be tracked or hijacked to cause harm — 57%
  • Whether the technology was recording you — 51%
  • Whether the technology was tracking you (after you stop using it ) —50%
  • Whether the technology put human beings out of work — 50% 
  • Whether you could get support or help from a human — 49% 
  • Whether the technology could provide you with the correct output or answer — 46% 
  • Whether the technology could understand what you want it to do — 46%
  • Whether the technology was supervised or monitored by a human being — 44%  
  • Whether the technology was based (ethically, politically, racially, etc.) — 41% 
  • Whether you could opt out of the technology — 39% 
  • Whether you could understand how to use/interact with the technology — 38% 



AI aside, consumers seem fairly trusting about use of their customer data by brands:

  • When I interact with (category) I generally trust how that company is collecting and using my personal/customer data — 48% 
  • When a (category) brand tailors communications to me personally, for instance, by showing me ads for products I have recently searched for, I generally find it useful or helpful — 45% 
  • When I interact with (category) brand, I think the company is mainly interested in using my personal/customer data to improve my customer experience — 38%

Email remains a popular channel, even it it is a low-impact one. 

Self-service checkout payment systems and personalized emails/messages are the most frequently experienced emerging tech that consumers deem least impactful. 

Still, those two functions are at the top of the usage list:

  • Self service checkout/payment issues
  • Personalized emails or messages
  • Brand/company mobile apps
  • Customer loyalty or rewards program
  • Personalized product/service recommendations
  • Chatbot or virtual assistant
  • Personalized advertisement
  • Smart-home devices/smart appliances
  • Voice commerce (i.e., making a purchase vocally or on an audio device)
  • Video chat platform
  • Natural language processing (NLP) platform
  • Metaverse, artificial intelligence or virtual reality experiences

Merkle surveyed 2,100 consumers in 18 countries across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region in October-November 2023.

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