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Forget digital creepiness – turns out consumers don’t care

12th Aug 2014
Editor MyCustomer
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If Big Brother is watching, we don’t appear too bothered about it.

Contrary to the question marks being raised in some circles (including at MyCustomer) about how businesses are currently using customer data, a survey of 2,000 members of the public suggests that less than half of the UK population show concern about their personal data being shared with brands.

58% of Britons say they’re “happy or not concerned” about the amount of data they share with businesses, the Webtrends survey found. 17% of people have even declared they are willing to hand over more detailed personal information, such as their income levels, with businesses, if it means receiving a good offer or discount for something in return.

Interestingly, the level of data trust is often sector-dependent, with 64% of respondents stating they were happy to share data with retailers, while 49% were happy to share with travel companies but just 5% with charitable organisations ( a sector that has also seen an unnerving rise in the complaints it has received in relation to marketing tactics).  

Discounts and coupons are the driver behind many data decisions; 36% of Britons say they can be persuaded to give up their data for a discount on products, while 31% will do so for free delivery online, or a discount on a holiday (28%).

“The common perception is that Britons are terrified of ‘Big Brother’ watching them,” says John Fleming, marketing director EMEA & APAC for Webtrends.  “But this isn’t quite the case when it comes to brands. Younger generations have grown up in a far more connected, data-centric world and often recognise the benefits of sharing personal info with their favourite brands.”

Indeed, younger people are far more blasé about their data being used by brands. 68% of people aged 18-24 “recognise the benefits of sharing personal info with their favourite brands”, while over half of those aged 55+ object to sharing any form of data with brands.

“This opens the door for companies to be more creative and innovative in how they use customer data,” Fleming adds. “For example, we’re starting to see exciting steps forward in the field of contextual personalisation, which brings together historical online data with real-time factors such as the user’s device, location and time of day to create a uniquely personal, in-the-moment experience.

“Increasingly we’re seeing brands use this to close the offline and online loop – using known online behaviour to drive sales in-store through the use of new technologies such as Apple’s iBeacons. Relevancy ultimately breeds trust, and as brands continue to enhance and personalise their customers’ experiences, the perception of these brands improves and data sharing increases.”

Webtrends’ survey results will prove a sticking point for initiatives such as Midata and HAT, both of which believe consumers are losing control of their personal data and should be handed more control of why and how brands can use their information.

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