Trust is cornerstone of consumer willingness to share data

High-profile data losses and the backlash against behavioural targeting have made consumers cautious about who they will give personal information to. At the same time, there is still a high level of willingness to trade data if certain conditions are right, especially convenience and trust. For marketers, winning that confidence is going to become more important as opt-out rates from publicly-available sources rise.

These are the findings of the first fast.MAP/DMA Data Tracker, based on a 2,027-strong representative panel of UK consumers. The study, which will be carried out every six months, examined attitudes to information security, permission and relationships.

Commenting on the findings, David Cole, managing director of fast.MAP, said/ “People are worried about revealing personal information – hardly surprising when 23 per cent have experienced a security breach in the last six months. Nonetheless, they remain surprisingly willing to divulge enough details to generate information or make it easier to buy items they want or need, especially when sourcing products such as insurance online. Convenience seems to be a motivating factor.”

Where a company is providing an essential service, 42 per cent of consumers said they would provide personal information, as would 37 per cent when they want to buy something. Incentives, such as free samples, discounts, money-off vouchers, competitions and points, were also persuasive for 24 to 30 per cent. But trust was the strongest driver, prompting 54 per cent to give information. It is notable that a clear privacy policy was also persuasive for 39 per cent.

A range of factors go into building up that confident relationship between consumers and businesses. As Chart One shows, making the experience of the website easy and having obvious security features gives a very high level of confidence. Close behind is existing trust of the brand. But it is also important that the company asks about sharing data, or states that it will not do so.

There is a major differential between known and unknown companies, however. Where a relationship already exists, 75 per cent of consumers would be happy to share personal information, while 62 per cent would share with a company selling products they have to buy, like insurance.

This picture is very different where there is no relationship – just 11 per cent would give data to a company they do not know. The level is slightly higher for aspirational product providers, such as a games software company launching a new title, which 23 per cent would share information with. Surprisingly, only 27 per cent would give information to a company in the same group or partnership programme as one they already know, but with which they do not yet have a direct relationship.

Part of the DMA Data Tracker is a relationship index showing which brands consumers say they are involved with. Tesco topped this table at 48 per cent, far ahead of second placed BT (32 per cent), British Gas (28 per cent) and Halifax (27 per cent). This suggests that outside of national brands supplying the daily needs of consumers, trust will be hard to build.

Relationships are also more transient than marketers might like to accept, which makes permission to use data highly dynamic. As Chart Two shows, two-thirds of unsubscribe requests are driven by a consumer going out of the buying cycle. If the two thirds of consumers saying they had not given permission in the first place are right, then a lot of digital marketers are in breach of ePrivacy rules. They are certainly guilty of losing data permissions through irrelevant, poorly targeted or over-frequent communications.

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