Consumers happy to share personal data with brands

UK consumers are 'surprisingly relaxed' about sharing their data with businesses, research finds.

More than half of Britons (58 per cent) say they’re not concerned about the amount of data they share with brands, according to a study by Webtrends.

Those aged 18-24 are least concerned, with 68 per cent believing the amount they share is currently about right or are not bothered about it, followed by 64 per cent of 25-34 year olds.

However consumers aged 55 and over are much more cautious, with half objecting to sharing data with brands completely, according to the survey of 2,000 Britons aged 18 and over.

Fewer than a quarter (23 per cent) of 18-24 year olds believe data sharing will be viewed negatively in the future, compared to 49 per cent of Britons aged 55 and over.

Webtrend’s EMEA marketing director John Fleming says that the common perception is that Britons are terrified of ‘Big Brother’ watching them, but this isn’t quite the case when it comes to brands.

‘Younger generations have grown up in a far more connected, data-centric world and often recognise the benefits of sharing personal info with their favourite brands. And with only 13 per cent of respondents saying they don’t like receiving personalised content from brands, it paints a clear picture that attitudes are continually evolving,’ he adds.

‘This opens the door for companies to be more creative and innovative in how they use customer data. For example, we’re starting to see exciting steps forward in the field of contextual personalisation, which brings together historical online data with real-time factors such as the user’s device, location and time of day to create a uniquely personal, in-the-moment experience.’

The research shows that even reluctant Britons can be persuaded to share personal data in exchange for special offers or discounts. One in three say they could be persuaded to give up their personal data for a discount on clothes (36 per cent), free delivery (31 per cent) or a discount on a holiday or travel (28 per cent).

Fleming adds, ‘Brands can take advantage of this by utilising online analytics to find out more about customers’ preferences based on their behaviour, and then offer them more of what they want, when they want it.’

However the research finds that there’s a big difference when it comes to the type of business requesting consumer data.

For instance, 64 per cent of Britons are happy to share their name and email address with a retail brand, but this reduces to just 17 per cent when it comes to more detailed information, such as their home address or income level.

Likewise, while 49 per cent would share basic info with a travel company, when asked for detailed information this drastically reduces to 10 per cent. And just 5 per cent of people say they would share this level of detail with a charity.

Fleming says that brands often have to compete with legacy perceptions – for example, people may have had a bad experience with a charity using their information for persistent communications and telemarketing. Consumers also forget to uncheck the marketing tick box and then get deluged with irrelevant and untimely offers.

‘However, companies can overcome this,’ he adds. ‘Through smarter use of the data they have, brands can personalise their communications, time them more appropriately and engage with their customers in the way they prefer, which leads to greater brand perception, loyalty and trust – a win-win-win.’

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