Consumers in the dark about their own data
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Consumers in the dark about their own data

Customer data is essential for marketers to reach the right audience, and meet customers’ needs and interests.

Yet our new research* shows that people are nervous about sharing personal data - fears of data breaches and misuse has them on high alert. And with two thirds (68%) of marketers confessing to limiting sharing their own data as a consumer because they know how organisations will use it, this is extremely worrying.

Our new report, Whose data is it anyway?, reveals a shocking 92% of consumers do not fully understand where and how marketers, brands and organisations use their personal information and data, and one third (31%) say they have no idea about where and how their personal data is being used.

More than half of all consumers (57%) say they do not trust an organisation to use their data responsibly – the biggest issue being that their information may be passed onto others without consent (40%). This begs the question: is enough being done by brands to follow correct data marketing practices and reassure consumers?

Equally, if not more worryingly, 51% of consumers also report having received communications from organisations they feel have misused their data, with 17% saying it happens all the time. This is whilst the majority of consumers (70%) still do not see the benefit of sharing their personal data at all.

Aside from cybercrime and online fraud, the research also reveals consumers are most concerned about being unable to control who holds their data (44%), their details being used to send physical or online junk mail or spam (38%), and unwanted social media advertising appearing on their social feeds (35%). Only 16% admit to always reading the available T&Cs before providing their personal data and more than a quarter (27%) admit to not knowing their data protection rights as a consumer.

Although our report reveals data discrepancies and concerns to be worryingly prevalent across the board, two-thirds (67%) of customers actually say they would share more personal information if organisations were more open about how they will use it. 

So, the solution is clear – marketers and businesses need to do the following to support consumers otherwise they risk alienating their customers, and that benefits no-one:

  1. Be straight with people – there is a lot of confusion when it comes to data. Marketers should champion consumers and tell them when they plan to collect data, why they wish to do so and what they intend to do with it. This should be communicated in a clear and open manner across all forms of data capture.
  1. Articulate the benefits – if marketers can demonstrate the positive benefits of their data collection to the consumer, and what it will enable them to do such as sharing topical and relevant products and services, then they may be able to gain more buy-in from consumers to extend this.
  1. Show you respect customer data – trust, honesty and transparency needs to be at the heart of the relationship between marketers and their customers. It's clear that the topic of data really matters to consumers, and they want reassurance that marketers are using it securely, and most of all, responsibly.
  1. Gain an understanding of data dos and don'ts – marketers should continually familiarise themselves with consumers’ data rights and the law. Introducing training across an organisation should help to make the correct data approach and procedures the responsibility of the whole business, and a development priority for all staff. Similarly, consumers should also better understand their data protection rights.

*The new research was carried out by Censuswide between 29 July 2016 and 10 August 2016 with a sample of 2,245 UK adults and 500 marketers. Research exclusively revealed at the annual CIM Digital Summit in London.

Chris Daly Chief Executive CIM

Consumers in the dark about their own data

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