Consumers Question Their Confidence in Mobile Privacy

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Though smartphones and online transactions are increasingly common, the average U.S. consumer's confidence in online privacy continues to dwindle.

When consumers engage with their favorite brands, they initiate relationships based on mutual necessity. But, just as romantic relationships require trust to build upon and sustain the connection, businesses must establish and maintain their trustworthy reputation if they hope to retain customers. However, as channels continue to expand, customers are growing wary of their favorite brands and their underlying privacy practices.

TRUSTe recently released its 2013 U.S. Consumer Confidence Index, which highlights that the majority of U.S adults continue to worry about their privacy online. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of TRUSTe, polled 2,166 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, to explore the potential impact of mistrust on business.

The following statistics examine the prevalence of online and mobile mistrust, providing brands with insight into where their weaknesses lie so they may improve over time:

  • The study reveals that 72 percent of smartphone users are more concerned about privacy on their smartphones than they were one year ago, while 81 percent of smartphone users say they are avoiding applications that might compromise their privacy.
  • Though 89 percent of respondents worry about their general online privacy at least sometimes, down slightly from 90 percent in 2012, concern remains high.
  • Forty-three percent of those surveyed don't trust companies with their personal information, up from 41 percent this time last year, while 89 percent of those polled claim they avoid doing business with companies they don't believe protect their privacy online, up slightly from 88 percent in 2012.
  • When it comes to specific online interactions, 89 percent of online shoppers worry about their privacy sometimes, frequently, or always, while 87 percent of those who use social networks exhibit frequent concern.
  • Eighty-six percent of those who bank online are concerned at least some of the time, as well as the 77 percent who use mobile applications, and the 82 percent who use email.
  • The majority of U.S. online respondents, 94 percent, want the ability to control who can collect their personal information and who can track their activities online.

Key takeaway: Consumers continue to integrate Web and mobile technologies into their daily routines. Yet, while many have readily adopted these helpful tools, most still have reservations about sharing their personal information with brands across industries. These channels allow companies to track customer behavior, which some find incredibly intrusive-and understandably so. Before these consumers can trust brands with location-based data or browser history, companies must establish a steady foundation built upon transparency and overall trust. Each channel represents something new and relatively unknown, meaning explicit privacy measures must be in place in order to build loyal mobile and online relationships.