Has GDPR improved brand experience? Most consumers aren’t convinced

With the first anniversary of GDPR coming into force just days away, most consumers don’t feel any better off, and nearly a fifth believe their experience with brands has actually got worse.


As we approach the first anniversary of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force, brands should be disappointed to learn that just 31% of consumers think their overall experience with companies has improved, according to exclusive research commissioned by Marketing Week.

Despite brands’ best efforts, the largest proportion (46%) don’t think GDPR has made any difference at all, while 17% believe things have actually got worse over the past 12 months, according to a survey of more than 2,000 consumers conducted by Ipsos Mori.

Encouragingly, the vast majority of consumers (93%) have heard of GDPR, with 39% saying they know a ‘fair amount’ or a ‘great deal’ about the data law.


Nearly half (48%) also say they understand their rights around how their personal data is used, which should be a wake up call for any brands still looking to circumvent the data law.

Two-fifths (41%) believe companies give them more control over their data than they used to, which rises to 49% among 25- to 34-year-olds.

READ MORE: Why GDPR is no longer the wolf at the door

However, while 31% of consumers say it’s easy to make choices about how their personal data is used by companies since the introduction of GDPR, nearly an equal number (28%) disagree that that’s the case.

Overall, 41% believe companies have become more transparent in how they use consumers’ personal data. Younger consumers are definitely more positive than older generations, however, with this figure rising to 53% among those aged 16 to 24 and 49% for the 25 to 34 age bracket. It gradually decreases to 31% for 55- to 75-year-olds though.

More worrying is the fact 40% of consumers – the largest proportion – don’t think companies even care if they are in breach of data laws, perhaps fuelled by endless headlines last year of data misuse, breaches and scandals, most notably at Facebook.


Most consumers have seen a difference in the way brands communicate with them, which is perhaps most pronounced when using company websites. This is impacting consumers’ experience with brands, with 59% suggesting many companies don’t let them use their website unless they agree to sharing their personal data.

Consumers are also not convinced email communication has improved as a result. While a quarter (25%) of consumers say emails from brands have become more relevant over the past 12 months, the largest proportion of consumers (37%) have seen no change, while 34% believe emails have actually become less relevant.

Likewise, when it comes to frequency, 39% think the situation has got worse, although 29% say they’ve seen an improvement.

Brands should be buoyed by the fact 47% of consumers say they trust companies which let them control how their personal data is used though. More encouraging still is the fact 37% say they tend to spend more money with these brands as a result.