As we approach implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and brace for its repercussions in the US, privacy is on the minds of many brands and marketers. A new survey from SAP Hybris finds that a majority of US consumers (71 percent) will share their personal information but are also concerned about privacy and data protection.
The study reflects that US consumers are fairly discriminating and want specific things in return for their data. And 29 percent of the study respondents were unwilling to share their data for any reason.
There is a hierarchy of personal information that consumers will share, according to the survey. They are most willing to share email address (52 percent), followed by shopping history (37) and mobile phone number (25 percent). Interestingly, only 19 percent were willing to share their “real-time location,” though that data is currently being tracked anonymously on a mass scale.
Percentages willing to provide personal information
At the bottom of the “willing to share list” were personal financial information (3 percent), Social Security numbers (3 percent) and access to social media accounts (9 percent). Separate survey data argue consumers will share location in exchange for clear benefits, like discounts or better shopping experiences.
If they do share information, consumers expect brands to protect their interests (72 percent), be transparent in how the data are being used with partners (66 percent) and protect their privacy in the event of any criminal investigations (60 percent). It’s doubtful that most publishers, platforms and brands are complying with these expectations. Most brands and publishers are also not transparent about how they use data.
Consumers also want personalization, a common refrain in surveys like this. The connection between providing their information and personalization wasn’t explicit in the survey, but it’s implied.
What personalized service means to US consumers
The survey also explored what alienates consumers and might cause them to end relationships with brands. Among the reasons: using personal data without their knowledge (79 percent), unresponsive customer service (78 percent), multiple mistakes (50 percent) and inconsistent online and in-store promotions (29 percent).
Less serious but annoying to consumers were: excessive telemarketing/sales calls (61 percent), too many marketing-related emails (61 percent), irrelevant content (46 percent) and prolonged customer service interactions (40 percent).
It’s safe to say that consumer data (including location) is increasingly used to personalize content, ads and experiences. But most of that is done without much transparency — in other words, without explicit consent.
In May, practices like these will no longer be viable in Europe or with European citizens. We’ll see how much of that trickles over to the US market.