Choose your words carefully in research and data collection

A study into consumers’ attitudes towards data sharing reveals that the wording of opt-in and opt-out marketing messages for data collection changes consumers’ reactions.

Mindi Chahal

The fast.MAP study of 1,175 people, reveals that 29 per cent would opt in to emails and other messages, compared with 51 per cent who say they would not opt out, but when asked more specifically for their permission, the rate is even lower. 

This is particularly important as EU data protection rules are likely to be put in place next year requiring consumers to ‘opt in’ to marketing messages from brands or third parties, instead of the current action of opting out.   

Interestingly, especially given the European regulations coming in 2015, a study of 1,860 millennials aged 18-36 by customer experience consultancy SDL group reveals a higher sensitivity among European millennials about sharing personal data with brands versus those in the US. 

Over half of respondents in the US have no issue with brands using their information to benefit customer experience. This is compared to 37 per cent in the UK, 28 per cent in Germany, 23 per cent in Norway and only 13 per cent in the Netherlands.   

The study also shows that companies can win this group over if they build trust as they are most likely to consider a brand if they’ve done business with them in the past. The majority of millennials feel this way: 89 per cent in the US, 81 per cent in the UK.  

In addition to the research above, the Market Research Society’s chief executive officer Jane Frost has sent a letter to all of the political parties to remind them of the importance of conducting ethical research, especially within the use of questionnaires and surveys in the run up to the elections.

The letter follows an Independent Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruling that the original wording of a Conservative party survey ‘What matters most to you’, about which MRS raised concerns, failed to follow ICO good practice guidelines. The party has since rectified the issue. 

Data privacy issues are a hot topic at the moment but being more open, honest and transparent in the use of words is key for any industry and simply looking at the way you ask a question could build trust with consumers.     



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