Consumers are reluctant to share data—what are the exceptions?

by | Jul 26, 2017 | Marketing, Public Relations

With privacy concerns sky high, today’s consumer is understandably very reluctant to share personal data with brands and retailers—but they will overlook their security fears under certain circumstances, according to a recent study conducted by YouGov on behalf of customer experience company [24]7.

According to the findings, consumer willingness to share data with companies is tied directly to their desire to save money or resolve customer service issues faster. Nearly half (43 percent) of the more than 1,000 consumers surveyed agreed that they would exchange personal data with companies to save money through personalized promotions, discounts or deals, followed by 39 percent looking for speedier issue resolution.

Off-target messages and privacy concerns proved to be the biggest deterrents for consumers receiving personalized marketing messages.

Cost-savings are universally seen across all age groups as the top benefit to sharing personal data—information such as email, age, location, interests, previous purchases, etc.—with millennials’ willingness to share data for deals (49 percent) slightly outranking Gen Xers (44 percent) and baby boomers (38 percent).

Relevance plays a big role in consumers’ appreciation or rejection of personalized messages

According to the survey, relevancy is the primary reason consumers embrace personalized marketing messages (26 percent). But off-target messages irritate consumers, with a similar percentage of respondents stating that irrelevancy was on par with invasion of privacy as a major cause of annoyance.

Twenty-nine percent said irrelevant messages were the leading reason they were bothered by personalized messages. Slightly more than that (32 percent) cited “it felt like an invasion of privacy” as the top reason they disliked a personalized message. Privacy concerns ranked high among consumers, with 28 percent stating, “I don’t like it when companies have my information when I don’t explicitly provide it” when asked about their overall feeling towards companies using personalized data.

Banking and insurance industries earn high marks, while telecom ranks last

The survey also reveals consumers see marked differences in their experiences with insurance and financial services companies, which received the highest approval ratings—nearly half of the consumers (48 percent) felt financial services companies and 50 percent felt insurance companies make good use of their personal data to deliver a better experience.

These two industries outperformed retail, travel and hospitality, utilities and telecommunications in consumer perception, with the telecom industry receiving the lowest ranking (38 percent). And when asked, over half of respondents (53 percent) were doubtful that providing additional information to cable, phone and internet providers would lead to an improved experience.

More data shared leads to higher expectations

Almost half of those surveyed (47 percent) had higher expectations about their customer experience as a direct result of sharing personal information with companies, with age proving to be a significant factor. The younger the respondent, the higher their expectations, with over half (59 percent) of millennials noting the more data they share the higher the expectations for a better customer experience, followed by Generation X (47 percent) and baby boomers (38 percent) respectively.

While consumers are willing to share more personal data, they are particular about when and why. For example, 22 percent surveyed are open to sharing personal data after buying a product or service in exchange for an improved level of customer service in the future. Likewise, 16 percent would share data post-purchase to receive ongoing information from the company, and 17 percent only want to share information if they encounter an issue that requires resolution. However, trust continues to be a deterrent to disclosing personal data, with 27 percent of consumers stating they would not share their information at any point.

“If used correctly, consumer data can play a valuable role in improving the customer experience, but this information should be used wisely to avoid alienating customers,” said Scott Horn, chief marketing officer at [24]7, in a news release. “The key to a great customer experience is dependent on companies’ ability to understand a consumer’s true intent. If companies understand precisely what a customer is trying to do and where their interests lie, they can deliver a more personalized interaction that doesn’t feel intrusive.”

The study is based on a survey of 1,145 U.S. consumers. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Fieldwork was undertaken on March 21st and 22nd.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+).

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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