Data Protection

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Sometimes when brands get in touch, it’s impossible to work out where they got your details. And this uncertainty is making more people wary of giving out their personal information.

However, if brands can build up a reputation for being trustworthy then consumers are willing to hand over their particulars, according to the latest research by fast.MAP/DMA.

Consumers appear to be surprisingly forgiving especially as one in four have suffered a personal data breach in the last six months, according to the study. Public data breaches in recent months include the NHS allegedly leaving confidential patient records accessible to thousands of its staff who would not normally be allowed to access such material.

And earlier this year media company AT&T made an apology after a data breach resulted in more than 100,000 email addresses belonging to iPad owners being exposed. AT&T’s chief privacy officer, Dorothy Attwood, had to explain the situation and reassure customers that it had rectified the situation as soon as it was discovered.

These examples demonstrate consumers are right to wonder what happens to their data. Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA says: ” Consumers are now fully aware of the value and vulnerability of their data, a fact that all too many brands have ignored at their cost.”

But those brands that can demonstrate that they take data security seriously stand to benefit from consumer loyalty. Those businesses that have an easy-to-use website with obvious security features make online shoppers feel highly confident, says the research. If brands approach data in a transparent manner then they clearly stand to benefit.

Consumers aren’t as interested in being incentivised to part with their data. Fewer than 20% are tempted by frequent shopper points, free shipping and store cards as a prompt to give their information.

What marketers need to be careful about is sending out unsolicited marketing material. This immediately puts people on the defensive, making them wonder how they got hold of their details. A quarter of people doubt a company’s reputation if they receive unwanted marketing material, showing that poor targeting can very quickly lead to a loss of trust. “Consumers are starting to connect the processing of personal data and the general management of it with leaving messages that are irrelevant,” adds Cole. So businesses don’t just have to be secure with their data, they need to be mindful of what their marketing says about them.

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