The Equifax-sponsored fast.MAP/DMA Data Tracking Study was carried out in September among a panel of 2,027 consumers, the profile of which matches the UK demographic.
Four opt-out statements were shown in isolation to a selection of the panel. The statement which prompts more than two-thirds of people to opt out (68 per cent) refers unambiguously to sharing data with selected partners.
The one which only half would tick (51 per cent) states “please tick here if you would prefer not to receive these messages from us.” A second sentence adds that data is also shared with carefully selected partners.
Presumably, says the report, less perceptive shoppers who are happy to hear more from the company concerned fail to read beyond the first sentence, since 74 per cent are happy to share personal information with companies they have a relationship.
However, as well as wishing to avoid unwanted marketing messages, the majority of consumers want to control which companies hold their personal data because they are concerned about security. Some 23 per cent have experienced a security breach in last six months and 34 per cent hold the companies and organisations they have given information to responsible for its safety.
And such data security worries are far from unfounded, according to David Cole, MD of online research company fast.MAP. “Until now, damage inflicted by marketing data loss has been very low level, but only because those who wish to profit from or cause disruption by using data theft have yet to make a concerted attack.
“But a perfect storm is brewing and the brands unlucky enough to be its target could be swept away. Not ‘if’ but ‘when’ this happens, companies which can’t demonstrate they’ve done everything in their power to protect their customer data, will find it impossible to recover the trust which this research shows is the key to customer confidence.
“Companies which use marketing data should at very least be DMA members and rigidly stick to its code of practice. They should also be constantly testing and upgrading their data security or they risk being identified as a soft target for data thieves,” Cole adds. “Then, if they suffer a cyber attack, they will be able to tell their customers they had done all they could to prevent it.”
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