Power to the people: how consumers are calling the shots when it comes to data privacy

Shallu Behar-Sheehan, CMO, TrūataThe COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how we engage with brands and organizations. Before it, consumers had a choice in how they purchased goods – instore bricks-and-mortar or online; however, lockdown restrictions meant consumers had no option but to fully embrace the digital world. And that means personal data flowing between retailers, advertisers, social networks and individuals.

For Shallu Behar-Sheehan, CMO, Trūata consumers increasingly understand the privacy paradox and now they want to recalibrate it in their favour…

Changed behaviours and accelerated digital transformation triggered by the pandemic have become catalysts for conversations surrounding data privacy and consumers are making their expectations known. Our Global Consumer State of Mind Report, which captured the views of 8,000 consumers across the globe found that people want to take back control of their digital selves – something they believe they’ve lost during the pandemic.

The report found that over three-quarters (77%) of global consumers have taken steps to reduce their digital footprint for fear that they are losing control of their privacy. Furthermore, 76% believe that brands need to do more to protect their data privacy.

While the pandemic provided the perfect window of opportunity for organizations to gather vast amounts of valuable data, the future value of that data will now be dictated by the approach organizations take to preserving privacy. To avoid losing out to privacy-conscious competitors, here are four consumer insights that should trigger organizations to pause and absorb so that they can pivot and propel forward with privacy-first data strategies.

Consumers are taking action

Valuing their ‘right to be forgotten’, more than three quarters (77%) of UK consumers have taken steps to reduce their digital footprints; this rises to 84% of Generation Z (20 to 27 year-olds), highlighting how strongly society’s younger consumers feel about their privacy.

In efforts to pro-actively take back control, consumers are no longer merely calling for regulations; they are looking at the impact of their digital footprints and putting measures in place.. These measures include rejecting/disabling website tracking cookies (38%), unsubscribing from email lists (36%) and using private browser modes on devices to avoid being tracked by companies (30%), signalling that brands need to tread with caution if they wish to retain trust.

Privacy is now a key differentiator

Adapt, evolve, or die. Data-driven organizations that are not already embedding privacy at the core of company culture are already behind. Privacy is set become a key influencing factor in purchase intentions with consumers signalling its importance. In fact, 6-in-10 (62%) global consumers already say it’s now a key differentiator when choosing to engage with a brand or particular product.

Demanding more than regulatory compliance, digitally-savvy consumers are now calling for the introduction of privacy certifications, with 62% globally stating they would feel more reassured and more likely to buy from a brand if it was officially certified according to a data privacy standard.

data privacy

Consumers are questioning data for ‘societal good’

While a COVID vaccination passport system is in operation and is viewed as a fast-track to normality, it has raised a number of ethical and privacy concerns around personal data. Our report found just 59% of UK consumers said they were happy to share their personal healthcare data in exchange for a vaccine passport.

The past year has raised questions about the UK Government’s handling of private data in general, with more than 4-in-10 (43%) of UK consumers agreeing they trust the government less than brands they shop with to responsibly look after their personal data.

The Government has had to be agile in reacting to the latest changes in COVID reports, using big data to monitor and control the spread of the virus; however, our report shows that this agility cannot compromise personal data.

Hyper-personalization is threatening privacy boundaries

Statistically, consumers have shown they are more likely to buy from a brand that offers a personalized experience. As a result, organizations are developing hyper-personalization strategies via artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to meet their heightened expectations. However, a paradox is now at play: consumers want personalization and privacy; they want innovation but not invasiveness. There now exists a point of no return when consumers feel that brands have crossed ‘the creepy line’ with their personal data.

Almost 6-in-10 global consumers (59%) feel worried that businesses have overstepped the mark with their data usage during lockdown. Setting the bar of tolerance, 60% of UK consumers agree that they would prefer not to have access to personalized offers if it means that brands cannot track them or their shopping behaviours, a statistic that has risen over the past year..

Moving forward

Future-thinking organizations understand that investments in privacy not only enable them to meet heightened customer expectations but provide them with a competitive advantage. Ultimately, it will be those organizations who understand the correlation and convergence of consumer values, commercial data strategies and emerging tech markets that are able to step-ahead in a privacy-conscious, digitally-driven world.

Shallu Behar-Sheehan, CMO, TrūataShallu Behar-Sheehan, CMO, Trūata