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Survey: What marketers should know about consumer attitudes toward data privacy

By Greg Griffiths | Posted on November 13, 2018

Marketing survey of consumer data privacy expectations

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation made 2018 the year that data privacy went global, but the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal really drove the point home: Data security and privacy is an important issue for brands and consumers alike. Target. Equifax. Facebook. Every year, a new highly recognizable name enters the ignoble ranks among those organizations that have suffered an expensive and embarrassing data breach.

In 2018, none other than Google itself fell victim to a devastating software glitch that potentially exposed data belonging to hundreds of thousands of Google+ user profiles. The tech giant responded by shutting down the platform entirely to protect the integrity of its users' data.

When one of the world's most sophisticated companies encounters a security incident on this scale, it just goes to show that no organization is immune to the threat of data leaks and breaches.

Among the many repercussions that data breach victims experience is a loss of customer trust - a hit to a brand's reputation that can years to overcome. To gauge exactly how consumers feel about the issues of data security and privacy, we conducted a survey of more than 1,000 people in the U.S. The results are eye-opening for any marketer concerned with the effect that data breaches and regulations have on data-driven consumer engagement and outreach.

Consumers favor data regulations

GDPR continues to be something of a divisive topic among consumer brands. Compliance can be challenging, and the cost of violating GDPR's guidelines may haunt an organization for years. We've said for a while, though, that GDPR compliance - not to mention compliance with other data regulations - can be a positive development for brands beyond avoiding costly fines. In particular, it demonstrates to customers that your brand takes data privacy seriously and is committed to safeguarding the personal information they share with your organization.

It turns out that most consumers agree with our take on the matter: 68 percent of survey respondents said they would like to see regulations similar to GDPR enacted in the U.S. An additional 22 percent were still on the fence about seeing data privacy rules that strict recreated stateside.

As far as the specific provisions included in GDPR, opinions were split regarding which one consumers would most like to see enacted in the U.S.:

  • 39 percent chose the ability to ask companies to delete any personal data they have on file at any time (the "right to be forgotten" clause)
  • 38 percent opted for the right to control how their data is used by consumer brands
  • 12 percent liked the idea of being able to lodge a complaint against companies that misuse their personal data and have those organizations fined as a result
  • 11 percent simply wanted to be able to get clarification on how companies used their data

Consumers are conflicted about how much companies know about them

Although survey respondents recognized the value of targeted marketing and personalized engagement, they expressed a sense of uneasiness with uninhibited data collection programs. More than half (55 percent) felt that Facebook's use of personal data to present users with more compelling and relevant advertisements constituted as spying. In addition, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) believed that, in general, websites know too much about them.

Brands need to find a way to provide customers with the kind of personalized engagement they crave while protecting their personal information and demonstrating a commitment to data security and privacy best practices. Customer identity and access management is a critical tool when trying to balance ironclad data security capabilities with the ability to offer a tailor-made customer experience. To find out more, download our recent study, "Consumer Attitudes Toward Data Privacy."

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About the author

Greg Griffiths

Sr. Product Marketing Manager

Greg Griffiths brings more than 15 years' experience marketing SaaS solutions in the enterprise IT, publishing and education arenas to Janrain as our Senior Product Marketing Manager. Greg drives much of Janrain's content and works across groups to ensure cohesive and articulate presentation of how our products and services align with the needs of our clients and the larger market. An analytics geek, Greg also steers much of Janrain's internal SEO and conversion initiatives, as well as new product launches. 

When Greg is away from our Portland office, he's likely enjoying time with his kids, near a trout stream, in a hammock, with a Faulkner novel close by ... probably all four at the same time.

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