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New global study reveals consumers are happy to share their data

Despite cultural and economic differences, new research from the GDMA,
UK DMA and 
Acxiom, shows consumers’ around the world
take a similarly pragmatic approach to sharing their data

Consumers are more aware than ever of how their personal information may be collected and used, due to recent media interest and the new General Data Protect Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in Europe. Today, a new global survey reveals that despite significant cultural differences and maturity of their respective data economies, the majority of people (77%) are pragmatic or unconcerned about sharing their data.

The figures come from the first ‘Global data privacy: What the consumer really thinks’ report – commissioned by the Global Alliance of Data-Drive Marketing Associations (GDMA), UK DMA and Acxiom – and reveal a surprising level of similarity in consumer views about sharing their personal information. The majority of people (51%) across the 10 markets and four continents surveyed are ‘Data pragmatists’ who will decide whether to share their personal information on a case-by-case basis, dependent on the benefits. This number rises to nearly 60% in Singapore, Spain and the USA despite the clear cultural and legal differences when it comes to consumer data.

On average, one in four consumers (26%) have little concern about how their data is collected and used, which the study describes as the ‘Data unconcerned’ – in Germany (34%) and the Netherlands (35%) this group rises to over a third. On the flip side, those consumers unwilling to provide their personal information, even in return for service enhancement (‘Data fundamentalists’), accounted for just under a quarter of respondents (23%) – this group was least populated in Argentina (16%) and Singapore (17%).

“We are in a new era of data privacy. Questions have been raised about whether major data stories and increased talk about the value of our personal data is impacting consumer concerns over how their information is used and managed. In fact, our research shows that consumer attitudes are changing in a positive way that makes us optimistic,” said Chris Combemale, GDMA Board member and CEO of DMA (UK) Group. “Overall, people understand the value in sharing their personal data as part of a modern economy.  But, as we move forward, it will be a challenge to see how businesses can capitalise on this a positive consumer attitude and ensure that consumers’ relationship with the data economy does not end with a reluctant acceptance of its existence.”

Despite 74% of people having some degree of concern about their online privacy more than half (51%) of global consumers are still happy to exchange their data with businesses, as long as there is a clear benefit for doing so. Many people (41%) also understand that sharing data is an essential part of the smooth running of modern society. In addition, 38% of consumers worldwide believe they should have ultimate responsibility for their data security over government institutions (15%) or businesses (5%). This feeling of personal responsibility was felt strongest in Germany (49%), Australia (46%) and the UK (46%); while respondents in Spain (24%) and the Netherlands (23%) believe government should take the lead.

“It is incredibly important these days to understand how consumers view data privacy across the globe and encouraging to see how similar they feel about key issues,” said Sheila Colclasure, Global Chief Data Ethics Officer at Acxiom. “The clear trend is towards greater acceptance of data exchange as part and parcel of everyday life. This is positive news for marketers who believe in data ethics and in greater transparency, access and control for the consumer as this will be key to achieving the win-win businesses and importantly, consumers, really want.”

The GDMA’s report also finds that across all countries control, trust and transparency form the foundational basis for healthy data economy. Indeed, half of consumers (51%) across all the markets surveyed said trust was key in their decision to share information with a company. The research also highlights that consumers want more transparency (86%) and control (83%) when it comes to their data in order to build these levels of trust.

Hear more from the DMA