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Commentary & Analysis

Consumers Are More Willing to Share Data than Ever...Under Certain Conditions 

As you help your customers gather data to improve their targeted marketing, the good news is that consumers are more willing than ever to share it. But it’s not a given. As a recent study reminds us, trust and transparency are key to getting them to open the vault.

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: January 16, 2019

If you have a wallet, everyone wants a piece of you. That’s the world that consumers live in today, and it’s the world you have navigate as you help your clients build their databases to improve their targeted marketing.

Your clients aren’t the only ones wanting their customers and prospects to open up about their personal data. Every other company wanting to improve their targeted marketing is trying to get the same information. So when on a data-gathering mission, it’s important to understand the thoughts and concerns of the people you are asking to give it.

In this industry, we are used to thinking about focusing on the benefits. This might include exchanging personal data for discounts or better, more relevant product suggestions. However, a recent study from Acxiom and DMA found that, overwhelmingly, the number one factor in consumers’ decisions whether to share data is not discounts or personalized recommendations. It’s trust.

When asked, “Rank the following in terms of what makes you happy to share your personal information,” 34% of respondents ranked trust as number one—three times the percentage who ranked “I get free services and products in exchange” (13%) and more than four times those who ranked “I can get higher value goods for a lower price” (8%) as number one. 

Trust is fragile. It’s not easily won, and it’s easily lost. But the good news is, consumers feel more comfortable exchanging some of their personal data with companies than they did in the past. More than one-third (35%) of respondents agree with the statement “I feel more comfortable exchanging some personal data with companies than I did previously” compared to 9% who disagreed. This was slightly higher for men than women (36% vs. 34%), but not significantly. The highest percentage saying they are “more comfortable” comes from consumers aged 35-44. In this group, 43% agreed with this statement, higher than any other age demographic.

What makes people more likely to share personal information?

  • Transparency about how their data is collected and used (56%)
  • Terms and conditions that are easy to read and understand (53%)
  • Privacy policy that allows them to control the types and amount of data they share (49%)
  • Benefits for sharing data made explicit at the start (48%)
  • Link between the data they share and the benefits are made clear (46%).

None of this is really news. We’ve seen similar data before. The point is that the data is still being gathered, and the results are consistent. As you work with your clients to build their databases, focus on trust, transparency, and benefits to the consumer. When it comes to data, it’s not exclusively about the benefits.

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”


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