jonny bacon

There are huge differences between consumer confidence levels in different sectors, too: while 38 per cent of people selected banking as one of their top two most trusted sectors for holding their personal data, only five per cent said the same for retail. Gaining consumer trust on data usage is a huge challenge for all retail brands as they seek to target the growing number of consumers completing purchases online.

Clear communication is the key, yet it seems that many brands are still falling down when it comes to reassuring consumers on how their data will be used. Jeremy Henderson-Ross, legal director in the EMEA for Aimia, the owner of Nectar, says brands should focus on putting forward a transparent privacy “proposition” to their customers rather than the unfiltered jargon of their privacy policies.

“What you need is a clear proposition so that consumers are absolutely aware of how your data is used, who it’s shared with and the value you are getting back,” he says. “Privacy policies should be a one-minute video, not a 60-page document.”

This straight-talking approach could help to reduce the level of confusion and concern among consumers when data breaches occur. The fast.MAP research, which was commissioned by the Direct Marketing Association and sponsored by Equifax, suggests that the potential for data security breaches will only grow as online activity expands.

Indeed more consumers (23 per cent) stated that their data had been compromised in the past six months compared to last year’s study (21 per cent).

So as security risks grow in an increasingly digital world, brands must become the guardians of customer data by ensuring privacy is at the heart of their interactions with consumers. As fast.MAP director Paul Seabrook notes: “For the first time since the study began, more consumers hold companies and organisations responsible for the security of their data than consider themselves to be responsible. Brands would be wise to plan accordingly.”