It's no secret that many companies rely heavily on consumer-generated data to inform many activities, from product development and strategic planning to targeted marketing campaigns. When the information is used effectively, however, it is the consumer who may ultimately benefit, as it can enable companies to enhance the customer experience and provide innovative products and services. But how willing are consumers to provide their information, and what concerns do they have about sharing and protecting it?
Have consumer privacy concerns changed over the last decade?
Data security remains a hot-button issue, with a variety of well-known and respected companies reporting that the data of more than 250 million of their consumers were stolen or compromised in 2014 alone. As connected products become more common, many industry observers expect consumer concerns over data security to rise further.
Given the ever-present threat that their information may fall into the wrong hands, it’s not surprising that 81 percent of our US respondents feel they have lost control over the way their personal data are collected and used. What is surprising, though, is that—across the world—this sense of losing control has actually returned to a level close to what it was in 1999 after spiking in 2014.
Across the board, consumers appear more willing to share data when they feel they get some value in return. Seventy-nine percent of our respondents agreed that they would be willing to share their data if there was a clear benefit for them. This means that companies should consider thinking about giving consumers a return on data. Whether it is something that entertains, informs, or rewards the consumer, companies should understand that many consumers may provide information in exchange for something that benefits them.
What can companies do to reassure consumers? Our study finds that while consumers state that they want more protection and security, the reality is that they may be more willing to provide their personal information if companies:
The bottom line: An important way companies can build and maintain consumer trust is to both put in place proactive data security and privacy measures and to engage in a transparent, ongoing dialogue with consumers on data privacy.