9/10 consumers don’t understand

Consumers are worried about the collection and use of their personal data by business. That’s confirmed by the latest Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) survey* of 2,245 consumers when they were asked recently about their attitudes to data use by businesses. They ranged across all genders, ages, incomes and geographical locations in the UK.
57% consumers questioned whether the organisations using their data were using it responsibly, and 40% think that the information they gave would be passed onto others without their consent. The public is particularly concerned and uncomfortable providing any information that’s taken from their social media platforms (68%,) sharing their real-time location (71%) and over 60% are unhappy about giving out a personal phone number.
Given the number of high profile cases featured in our media it’s no wonder we’re cautious.  As well as making use of our data, giving it to any business or charitable organisation also provides an opportunity for hackers to get hold of our details. Chris Daly, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing commented on the survey “people are nervous about sharing personal data-fears of data breaches and misuse has them on high alert. “
The research found that the vast majority (92%) of consumers do not fully understand how organisations use their personal information and data. One third (31%) of consumers, meanwhile, said they had no idea about how or where their data is being used.
However, when people were asked about whether they’d be willing to share data when its use was more openly explained, 67% said they would, in fact, feel more willing to provide it.  So there is an opportunity is for marketers to provide greater transparency and build trust with the public about data use. Clear and simple explanations on websites and other marketing materials about the use of data should be the norm rather than the exception. T&C’s need to be kept as easy for a layman to understand as possible, should not be hidden away and it should be easy to understand what a tickbox actually means.

The study then went on to compare attitudes towards personal data use amongst the marketing professionals themselves. 500 marketers were asked about the use by brands of their own personal data and the majority (68%) were themselves wary about sharing. In part this is explained because they are “too aware” of how the information they provided would go on to be exploited by brands and organisations.
The success of organisations as Google, Uber and Netflix, who increasingly build their business strategies around the collection, use and insights acquired from large customer databases, has encouraged the industry to follow suit. The business world is full of examples and case studies where the use of the ‘Big Data’ has driven sales growth.  However, many other organisations are not yet prepared for using the data in terms of putting in place the key systems, processes and knowledge they need. In doing so they are putting their business at risk of significant reputational damage, devaluing their brands and damaging, perhaps permanently, customer trust.
It’s vital that marketers themselves fully understand the laws and how to implement best practice around using personal data. We need to ensure that our voices are heard loud and clear within our organisations about keeping the way we make use of such data really transparent with our customers. Chris Daly concludes “The solution is clear, marketers need to brush up on the rules, demonstrate clearly the value-add personal data offers in delivering a more personalised experience and ultimately reduce the fear by being open throughout the process”.

If you would like a confidential chat about how to use data responsibly, follow best practice and build real trust with your customers, give us a call on 01905 885 285.

* Chartered Institute of Marketing, survey “Whose Data is it anyway?” September 2016.