Among all the complexity of modern advertising and one-to-one marketing, it’s easy to assume that consumers are uninterested in the workings of data, permissions and where their information ends up.
Of course, the truth is that consumers are extremely savvy. They know that their data is worth something and they know that they may need to be cautious about how they use it.
Today, we have a great opportunity for marketers to reassure consumers and build trust. Consumers are increasingly predisposed to sharing and marketers should seize this opportunity to build further trust with them.
New research by the Future Foundation for the DMA and Acxiom shows that we have a marvellous opportunity to capitalise on positive trends in consumer attitudes to privacy. But companies must not dither. New legislation from Europe could have a significant impact on the way companies run their businesses and even their relationship with customers.
We first asked the Future Foundation in 2012 to look at consumer attitudes to privacy. They found three consumer archetypes: pragmatists, who will share data dependent on the situation; fundamentalists, who won’t share; and the not concerned who don’t care too much either way.
The biggest group has always been the pragmatists, increasing from 53 per cent to 54 per cent of the total over this time. But the real story is in how the other groups have shifted. The proportion of fundamentalists has plummeted from 31 per cent to 24 per cent while the not concerned has increased from 16 per cent to 22 per cent of the total.
Consumers know that their data can be used to access so many useful products and services. Those taking a fundamentalist approach to their data are losing out and more consumers are coming around to a pragmatic, even care-free point of view.
While this falling away of the fundamentalist approach is good for marketers, we should not be complacent. Companies can still fall victim to cyber attacks, data can be mismanaged, there may be unreasonable terms and conditions attached to products and services. All these factors may alienate consumers.
The research shows us that consumers not only have an appetite to share, but can put that sharing into some context. Between 2012 and 2015 the proportion of consumers who expect to exchange some information before buying online has risen from 65 per cent to 73 per cent. More than half (55 per cent) are comfortable with the notion that free products are available in exchange for data. A similar number (51 per cent) believe that sharing data is, “important to the future success of the UK economy.” There is both consumer understanding and appetite to share more data.
But the most important factor is trust. To reach more consumers and persuade them to share more information, consumers must trust companies. Almost two-fifths (38.9 per cent) of consumers chose trust as the most important factor to consider when sharing information, almost four times the next most popular option.
If trust is the most important factor, then this is the business opportunity. Last year we developed the DMA Code to show what responsible marketing looks like. It goes beyond what the law requires and is a superb way to plot how to get closer to your customers and build trust.
The DMA Code is also a good way to hedge your business operations against new legislation that may be coming from Europe, such as the new Data Protection Regulation, currently in trilogue negotiations in Brussels.
It all comes back to trust. If companies build trust, consumers will share data and your company will prosper. Be open, fair, transparent and show your customers why you need their data. They want to know and they want to share. Give them more reasons to do so.