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GUEST COMMENT Their data, their terms: what consumer perceptions mean for retailers

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Dubbed a “step change for data protection” the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has now been in force for more than a year. So, has it changed how consumers see data sharing and privacy?


This was the question Tealium sought to answer through research. Its study, carried out in association with DataIQ, explored current views on the way personal information is being requested and applied, and the key factors that influence consumers’ attitudes to data-value exchanges. The results show consumer priorities are as complex as ever.


To keep digital revenue flowing and loyalty strong, retailers must learn to navigate the post-GDPR terms of engagement. Starting with gaining a better idea of what matters to privacy-conscious shoppers.


What a difference a year makes

When it comes to increasing consumer awareness of data privacy, GDPR has achieved its goal. The survey revealed 32% of consumers are at least somewhat aware of their data rights and 61% understand the data economy. Progress towards increasing consumer confidence in data security and sharing, however, is moving at a slower pace.


Consumers enjoy the convenience of services that rely on personal data to simplify online shopping experiences; be that saved log-ins (25%) or relevant content (24%). Shoppers recognise the value data holds for retailers and have high expectations of the rewards they should receive for granting access, particularly special offers (37%). But many are still worried about doing so: with almost half (47%) of consumers preferring not to give personal data to their favourite brands.



An imperfect value exchange

At first glance, these findings seem illogical: consumers want tailoring, yet are reluctant to share the information it requires. But a little further digging indicates the likely source of this data contradiction.


The vast majority of shoppers like data-driven tools that power genuinely useful abilities, such as allowing retailers to instantly pinpoint their location (28%) or welcome them back to a platform (26%). What consumers don’t like are practices that overstep the mark. Asked about issues that cause anxiety when using ecommerce sites and apps, 38% name ads that seem to follow them around.


Meanwhile, requesting too much information is listed as the number one reason for losing trust in a retail brand by two-thirds (62%) of consumers. Retailers are frequently falling short by delivering ad formats that don’t align with current needs and prioritising maximum data access over consumer satisfaction.



Crafting a better customer experience

Consumers want experiences that provide the advantages of data-driven living — speed, ease, and customisation — without the privacy concerns. And to master this balance, retailers must overhaul their data processes from the ground up. First of all, this means managing the personal information consumers do consent to share responsibly and effectively via advanced orchestration. By leveraging technology capable of instantly collating, merging and cleansing data from multiple online and offline sources, retailers can build a cohesive data foundation, which in turn allows them to gain a 360-degree view of every consumer.


Next up is putting this comprehensive insight into action. In-depth knowledge of individual tastes, habits and purchase paths enables retailers to ensure interactions consistently deliver real-time relevance and convenience. On the flip side, data can also be harnessed to minimise irritation. This includes evaluating unique preferences to determine where the ‘creepy’ line is for individuals regarding personalised marketing. Much the same applies to analysis of interaction with privacy notices:  if data points to high drop-off rates or confusion about policy, there may be a need for simplification and clarification.


Aside from the increased accuracy of personalised advertising and promotions, the core advantage of this consumer-focused approach is the potential to sway shoppers’ attitudes. By illustrating clear respect for individual privacy rights and needs, retailers can strengthen consumer bonds and trust. Combined with transparent explanations of why data is necessary, how it will be used and protected — and easily accessible privacy notices — retailers will stand a much better chance of earning lasting consumer loyalty and data. After all, 17% are selective about who they share data with and retail brands must work harder to be one of the chosen few.


Entering the circle of trust is certainly more challenging in the post-GDPR world: privacy-sensitive consumers know their data is a desirable asset and are increasingly wary about handing it over. But a brief investigation into consumer perceptions shows these concerns aren’t just the result of high-profile breaches and a rise in sensitivity. Online shoppers understand the value exchange and are keen to embrace it; they just feel retailers aren’t living up to their side of the bargain. To gain consumer confidence, retail companies must use data on their terms; providing data sharing empowers tailored experiences that are engaging, not annoying.

Lindsay McEwan, is VP and managing director EMEA at Tealium

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