One of the most important questions we are trying to help our clients answer is how they can persuade their customers to part with their personal data.
For some time now, we have known that the key to creating a healthy culture of data exchange has been to incentivise the capture and use of consumer information. Indeed, across all markets, the core unifying trend among consumers is the evolving notion that their data is worth something - that their personal intel is a commodity that can be captured and traded for their personal gain.
However, although there is little doubt that incentivisation will be a defining feature for the future of data collection, there is no consensus on what the most effective strategies for achieving this will be. Instead, a broad range of possible incentives have emerged, many of which revolve around the notion of personalisation. Here the argument is usually that consumers will be happy to share their personal information in return for some form of tailored marketing, content or brand communications. Or the idea that brands can use customer data to offer enhanced services and advice that are designed specifically for each individual. And while all of this will no doubt go some way to convincing consumers it is worth their while to share their data, there is little evidence that it will be sufficient in the majority of markets.
In a recent survey we conducted across a range of global markets, we found that using personal intel to tailor services, recommendations and advice only proved remotely effective at incentivising data sharing in developing countries. For instance, in China 46 per cent of people claimed to be happy for companies to use their personal data in order to learn from previous purchases/behaviours and better tailor services as a result. In comparison, agreement across all the European markets we surveyed never rose above 17 per cent and fell as low as 12 per cent in countries such as Sweden and Germany.
A similar picture emerged when we asked consumers if they would be prepared to share their data with a brand in order to receive personal recommendations for products. Again, support for this form of incentivisation rises to 44 per cent in India, but falls to under 20 per cent in all European markets. Crucially, we found similar findings again and again for all questions regarding incentives that did not offer some form of direct financial reward.
Yet, when we asked whether people would be happy to share their personal information in return for special offers or discounts, agreement almost doubled in European markets to match the support found in emerging economies. For example, 54 per cent in Italy claimed to be willing to exchange their data for discounts and special offers, while over 40 per cent agreed in markets such as Spain, Sweden and France.
Such findings have significant implications for how we view the future of incentivisation. First, it appears that attempts to placate consumers through any form of incentive that does not ultimately lead to a direct financial reward may prove to be far less effective than previously thought. What’s more, these findings also suggest that it is unlikely that we will discover one silver bullet, one single method that proves to be exclusively effective at convincing consumers to hand over their personal data. Instead, brands will increasingly have to evolve their approach to respond to the widening divergence in attitudes towards data exchange apparent across the different regions of the world.