As we reach the first anniversary of last year’s GDPR regulation, a new survey by integrated risk management firm SAI Global reveals a growing trust deficit across global consumer groups—driven by data privacy, traceability and ethical and environmental stewardship doubts. The message: Companies can’t simply say “trust us” when people are demanding “show us.”
The firm’s annual Reputation Trust Indexreport, conducted by brand intelligence research firm Survata, demonstrates that consumers are now beginning to rethink the value exchange terms between themselves and the brands they choose to do business with causing companies to go on a reputation offensive. Companies must begin thinking in terms of transparency-by-design to bridge the gap and safeguard brand resilience through trust-building.
Key survey findings include:
- 82 percent of consumers research companies before making purchases
- 65 percent of consumers ranked data privacy as the most important corporate social responsibility (CSR) value
- 36 percent of consumers ranked a Financial Service data breach as the most pressing company crisis
- 64 percent of consumers would spend more to save the environment
- 60 percent of consumers demand public responsibility more so than financial repercussions
Control, trust and transparency form the foundational basis for a healthy data economy
Of those surveyed for the Trust Index, 65 percent viewed data privacy as the most important attribute when considering a company’s trustworthiness, a score that indicates the rise in the understanding of global consumers’ rights and mechanisms that regulations like the GDPR have made available to strengthen their ability to manage and protect their data.
“GDPR, and a steady beat of high-profile data breaches, has shifted the way consumers think about their data and its value in our digital economy,” said Peter Granat, CEO at SAI Global. “The balance of power has tipped to consumers as reputations now hinge on trust and transparency credentials over cost.”
According to findings from SAI Global’s Trust Index, one of the most fundamental ways a company can prove its data collection and privacy processes “trustworthy” is by being transparent. Among those surveyed, 75 percent would accept a lower quality product for increased data protection. They would also pay more for a product or service if data privacy was guaranteed.
Young and old agree—privacy protection is critical
The annual survey also found no real differences in the value systems across generations. Among those surveyed, Millennials, GenXers and Baby Boomers all agreed that businesses must protect their privacy in order to gain their trust.
In the inaugural Trust Index report in 2017, SAI Global asked consumers to rank the more important attributes of trust and over half of consumers surveyed (56 percent) cited how the business responds in a crisis as paramount. Fast forward to 2019 and 60 percent of those surveyed now wanted companies to take public accountability and 24 percent want to see the company pay a fine.
“Businesses must have the proper controls in place for transparency across data privacy, supply chains and ethical stewardship or they risk losing consumer trust,” said Granat. “More than just mitigating risk, businesses must thoroughly integrate and align reputational resilience into their business strategy. By doing so they can gain a competitive advantage by becoming trusted providers in terms of safety, security, reliability, privacy, and data ethics.”
SAI Global commissioned Survata to conduct this survey on consumer trust. Survata interviewed 4,691 online respondents who were 18+ years old between Oct. 22-26, 2018. The study was sampled within six major global regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Middle East, Africa and the Oceania. The margin of error for this study at a 95 percent confidence level is 1.4 percent.