Customers will share data but don’t rest on your laurels

consumersConsumers around the world are finally coming to terms with the fact that the exchange of personal data is essential for the smooth running of modern society.

So says a new study commissioned by the Global Data & Marketing Alliance (GDMA), in partnership with Acxiom and the DMA UK, called the 2022 Global Data Privacy: What the Consumer Really Thinks.

The fourth report since 2012, and the latest since 2018, the study now covers 16 countries, representing over half the world’s population and reveals how attitudes have changed over the past four years.

It shows how consumers are increasingly comfortable with data sharing, especially if there is a clear benefit of doing so, with the vast majority (82%) prepared to engage with the data economy in 2022.

Unsurprisingly, trust in an organisation remains the most important factor driving consumers’ willingness to share personal information with a company. Across the 16 countries surveyed, 38% of consumers rank “trust in an organisation” in the top three factors that make them happy to share data with an organisation.

Since the 2018 edition, which surveyed 10 of the same markets, many countries have implemented new or updated data protection legislation. When making like-for-like comparisons between 2018 and 2022, there are some important trends observed that show an increasingly positive public sentiment to data exchange, the report’s authors claim.

In 2022, almost half (46%) of global consumers across 10 markets feel more comfortable with the notion of data exchange with businesses – such agreement has grown from 40% in 2018.

In addition, a similar proportion (48%) of consumers across the 10 countries stated data exchange as essential for the running of modern society – rising from 41% back in 2018.

Another trend to have emerged over the past four years is the rise of a group dubbed the “data unconcerned”; people who show little or no concern about their data privacy.

Nearly a third (31%) of consumers across the 10 global markets now fall into this category – up from 26% in 2018. There is also a decline of “data fundamentalists”, who are unwilling to share personal information. Just one in five (21%) now state they fall into this cohort – down from 23% in 2018.

The majority of consumers (47%) surveyed remain “data pragmatists”, who are happy to exchange data with businesses so long as there is a clear benefit for doing so.

GDMA chair Martin Nitsche, who is also president of the German direct marketing association (Deutscher Dialogmarketing Verband), said: “Consumers understand the part data has to play in the data value exchange. Trust remains the most decisive factor driving consumers’ willingness to share data, so the guiding principle of valuing privacy must engender trust at the heart of customer communication.”

Meanwhile Jed Mole, who is now CMO of IPG agencies Acxiom, Kinesso, and Matterkind, reckons that while some media reports would have us believe people are more worried than ever before, the reality is more people are getting familiar with data and technology and in return concern is falling.

But he added: “Not to say we can relax. Indeed, to the contrary, we need more engaged and pragmatic minds around data. So, while people have less concern than before when it comes to data matters, it matters greatly that we collectively work to understand how people think, so that we may help them have a balanced view of this amazing digital age and how it works for people. This research helps make that possible.”

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