Shoppers: Transparency About Data Use Would Encourage More Sharing

April 16, 2018

Almost two-thirds of online shoppers in the US and Canada are much more comfortable sharing information about themselves when brands proactively tell them what their information will be used to do, according to a study from Vision Critical.

The survey, conducted among roughly 1,000 American and Canadian adults who had made an online purchase in the previous year, found that the vast majority (86%) understand that some amount of personal information about them is shared and stored when they take actions online. However that attitude seems to stem more from resignation than willingness: more are unlikely (56%) to share their information than are happy to do so, even with brands they trust (44%).

Even so, a majority (58%) feel that they respond better to personalized or better targeted messages from brands. There is a clear limit to the types of data consumers are comfortable with brands using to personalize messages: 80% are OK with brands using information they share directly, but only 19% are comfortable with brands using information inferred from other data they’ve acquired. Similarly, just 17% are comfortable with brands using information they acquire through third parties in order to better personalize messages.

Overall, only about 1 in 5 shoppers surveyed aren’t comfortable sharing any information. Most are willing to do so, whether in exchange for discounts and/or promotions (52%) or to get more personalized service and offers (42%).

That’s echoed by recent research from Episerver, which found that the single largest motivating factor to sharing more data is greater savings or better offers.

Yet that same Episerver survey also revealed that transparency about data use would also encourage more data sharing, and this latest research from Vision Critical supports that outlook. Given 4 choices about data transparency and sharing, the largest proportion of respondents said they would be more comfortable providing companies with personal information if they could easily see all the data stored about them (44%).

Meanwhile, more said they’d be comfortable sharing data if they could easily request that they delete their personal information (a key feature of the upcoming GDPR regulations) than said they’d be comfortable if they could easily change the information stored about them.

The increasing willingness to provide information based on transparency suggests a counterintuitive outcome to GDPR regulations, which require greater transparency surrounding data use: rather than limit the amount of data about customers, it may actually spur them to share more…

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 1,006 US and Canadian online shoppers, the vast majority of whom had made their last online purchase within the previous month.

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