Consumers skeptical about how brands are using their data—how to earn their trust

by | Jul 29, 2019 | Public Relations

Data privacy may be the biggest challenge brands and businesses face right now in order to earn the trust (and business) of today’s skeptical consumers—and many states are even embracing legislative action to force companies to have more respect for personal data. California’s CCPA data privacy law and Maine’s Internet privacy protection bill, some of the most restrictive in the nation, are standing behind the consumers who want to understand and control their data—and other states are following suit.

Brands trying to reach those consumers will need to act accordingly—and the stakes are high

Digital experience firm Acquia announced the results of a new survey, polling more than 1,000 U.S.-based consumers on their data privacy opinions and preferences. The findings reveal that despite the past year’s global focus on GDPR and other data privacy regulations designed to give consumers more power over their data, more than half (55 percent) of respondents still don’t know how brands are using their data—and on top of that, 65 percent don’t even know which brands are usingtheir data.

More key findings from the survey include:

  • 59 percent of consumers wait at least a month before sharing any personal data with brands
  • 49 percent of respondents are more comfortable giving personal information to brands with a physical store presence
  • 65 percent of respondents would stop using a brand that was dishonest about how it was using their data

The research found that consumers are not willing to give brands a second chance to protect the integrity of their data

This means that businesses have only one chance to make sure their customers know that their personal information—and their privacy—is in safe hands.

The recent focus on data privacy legislation globally puts a spotlight on brands who are also facing consumer demands for personalized online experiences. This requires brands to perform a balancing act of delivering hyper-personalized experiences while also being more careful than ever with consumer data.

Consumers are typically waiting at least a month before sharing any personal data with brands. This underscores their desire to build relationships, taking time to get to know brands before trusting them. With this in mind, transparency will be key for brands looking to earn this trust; proposed U.S. legislation requiring Internet giants to disclose the value of user data indicates the growing demand for transparency when it comes to personal data. The organizations who answer this mandate with clear policies on data usage will be most effective at building the trust of these consumers.

In addition to being hesitant to share their data right away, almost half of respondents said they are more comfortable giving personal information to brands with a physical store presence—that’s how much they distrust the Internet. It’s now up to digital brands to re-earn that trust—even if they aren’t responsible for creating the concern in the first place.

“Brands have a responsibility to educate consumers about data usage, proving that they can trust the Internet again,” said Tom Wentworth, SVP of product marketing at Acquia, in a news release. “This new research from Acquia indicates the beginning of a new paradigm where businesses need to find personalized ways to engage consumers without going too far. Allowing consumers to opt in or out of data sharing will become more common over time as brands recognize that giving consumers back control of their data is not only the right thing to do, but it will also benefit their business in the end.”

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