Consumer Privacy Attitudes to Affect Marketer Strategies

As marketers consider the future and how much consumer data to share online, the privacy issue is a key concern. As I mentioned in one of Wednesday’s blog posts, McCann’s new study on privacy shows that consumer attitudes on this topic are shifting. Marketers who get it right can use consumer data to great advantage without stirring controversy that could damage the brand.

Today’s consumers remain mostly concerned about their finances being hacked or about someone reading their private emails or texts.  They also accept that modern life means being tracked on CCTVs in brick and mortar stores and being tracked online by marketers. Here are the percentages of consumers willing to share information with brands, by category, online:

  • Shopping 71%
  • Location 48%
  • Personal 39%
  • Medical 27%
  • Financial 14%

Consumers also appreciate having access to tools that protect their privacy. For example, nearly 60% use anti-​virus software and over 40% only add people they know to their social networks online. The tendency to control settings on social networking sites is associated with younger consumers – over 84% of consumers under age 30 make adjustments to privacy settings.

It’s not that consumer don’t trust merchants with their personal information. The key issue is the nature of the relationship. McCann analysts advise marketers to understand how consumers feel about various aspects of online data sharing as shown below:

  • Commitment: 56% of U.S. consumers want reassurance that companies won’t pass along personal data when asked.
  • Choice: 57%  want to know how their personal information will be used.
  • Control: 55% want to determine which bits of information will be shared.
  • Compensation: 30% want to understand exactly how they will benefit from the data sharing.

In addition, consumers indicate that they trust banks (69%) and credit card companies (46%) far more than they trust beauty companies (35%) and dating sites (> 20%). Financial institutions work hard to remind consumers to update passwords and they offer multiple levels of security. But marketers in other industries can succeed while using consumer’s personal information. For example, Amazon has established a good track record by using data to present shoppers with multiple options for future purchases based on past behavior. Marketers that communicate their plans to consumers and who follow up regularly can build trust and gain access to useful data.

[Source: The Truth About Privacy. McCann Worldgroup. October 2011. Web. 3 Nov. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.