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Consumers “sceptical” of data privacy initiatives in retail

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22nd Oct 2015
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Capgemini Group has released findings from a report into personalisation and privacy, stating that consumers worldwide are “strongly dubious” of retailers’ privacy initiatives and that 93% of all consumer sentiment on the subject is negative.

The study, Privacy Please: Why Retailers Need to Rethink Personalisation, analysed the social media sentiment analysis of over 220,000 conversations, covering 65 large retailers, to map consumer attitude towards data privacy in the retail sector.

Aside from the negative sentiment towards brands’ data privacy policies, it also found that many people were sceptical about how personalisation strategies balanced with data privacy policy.

Only 14% of retailers are deemed positive by consumers when it comes to balancing personalisation and privacy initiatives.

However, a significant number of brands were seen to “actively antagonised consumers”, with nearly 29% of retailers leaving consumers dissatisfied with both their personalisation and privacy initiatives, largely due to intrusive loyalty programmes, excessive promotional mails, poor in-store service, or confusing opt-in/opt-out instructions.

Kees Jacobs, global consumer products and retail consumer engagement lead for Capgemini, said well-documented data leaks remained at the heart of consumer negativity towards personalisation:

“The deluge of hacks on retailers’ data and misdirected personalisation initiatives are having a dramatic effect on consumers’ trust.

“The advent of digital shopping and big data analytics promised a golden age for retailers, but many of the world’s largest brands are finding the reality of safeguarding and properly utilising this precious information very challenging.”

Contrastingly, MyBuys recently found that 50% of consumers want their personal information to be used by brands, whilst research from Emarsys shows personalised treatment incentivises 42% of consumers to engage with brands.

However, Emarsys’s UK managing director, Steven Ledgerwood says the line between what consumers see as personalised and what they see as over-stepping the mark is still being drawn:

“Not everyone gets it right. A few years ago US company Target was able to predict when its female customers were pregnant. Target then proceeded to send pregnancy-related coupons to customers, much to the horror of one angry father who complained that the company were encouraging his 14-year-old daughter to get pregnant.

“Just because a customer once bought something from you, that doesn’t make you ‘BFFs'. While digital natives tend to be open to personalised marketing because they know that online activity can be tracked, some people are less receptive to personalised messages.

“Perhaps the most significant element of creepiness is surprise. Marketing only crosses the line from ‘cool’ to ‘creepy’ when a customer is surprised that a company has some particular knowledge about them.”

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