Preferences and Privacy: Respecting Customers' Personal Data

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Consumers are increasingly cautious when sharing sensitive information, so brands must clearly outline how they intend to use their information without compromising security or privacy.

In this era of the empowered customer, companies must understand that, while data and consumer insights may be available at every turn, preserving privacy breeds trust. With technology becoming increasingly invasive, consumers are growing wary of the safety measures in place as identity theft and data breaches gain prevalence in the public eye. Most wonder how feeding this information to their favorite brands will impact them in the future. Yet, while such sentiment could hinder customer relationships, companies have the opportunity to generate a dialogue that promotes transparency and loyalty.

SDL's "Marketing Data and Consumer Privacy: What Your Customers REALLY Think" report explores the average consumers' behaviors and expectations, highlighting how their perceptions influence their willingness to share data. The study, which surveyed more than 4,000 consumers across the U.S., U.K., and Australia, focuses on how customers feel about current marketing practices and the benefits of increased transparency. While consumers are worried about how marketers are using their personal information, many would be open to sharing such data if the benefits were clearly outlined upfront.

The following statistics examine consumers' primary concerns with today's privacy practices and the importance of developing transparency to deliver value:

  • While 62 percent of global survey respondents worry about their personal information being used for marketing purposes, 74 percent of those polled expect consumer protection groups to monitor how brands use this data.
  • Seventy-six percent of smartphone owners aren't comfortable with retailers tracking their in-store movements via Wi-Fi or geo-location, for they aren't aware as to why they are being tracked and what benefits this entails.
  • Overall, 55 percent of those surveyed dislike stores or brands that track purchases to target promotions and offers, while 57 percent don't choose to do business with brands that use personal information to improve the experience.
  • While respondents are more likely to provide personal information to the brands they trust (79 percent), most expect to receive a positive customer experience regardless of whether they've shared such sensitive data or not.
  • Global respondents are more willing to provide personal information when joining loyalty programs (49 percent). In the U.S., consumers are likely to share data about their gender (62 percent), hobbies (52 percent), and marital status (43 percent).
  • Sixty-five percent of global respondents rarely or never read a website's privacy policy, while 58 percent don't use a specific credit card or bank account for online purchases, highlighting that consumers trust brands to offer a secure checkout process.
  • Forty-on percent of consumers would give up personal information in exchange for free goods or services.

Key takeaway: Transparency and trust are not innate. Both must be earned. For companies today, that requires implementing specifically defined data collection methods and privacy measures that keep consumer information safe and secure. Customers prefer to keep brands at arm's length because they're unsure as to how their personal data will be used and how such insight will benefit their experience overall. In fact, one recent "60 Minutes" segment specifically highlights just how many outside parties may be monitoring one's online behaviors, demonstrating precisely why so many have grown wary of overall online practices. But, by engaging in conversation and highlighting incentives upfront, companies have the opportunity to proactively reduce risk and improve brand trust. Consumer insights are vital to the growth of any business, but transparency remains essential for the vitality of any relationship. By respecting customer preferences and appeasing their primary concerns, brands can consistently boost loyalty and reinforce trust to sustain engagement and satisfaction.

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