What Are Consumers Saying About Privacy and Safety?

Sep 23, 2020 | Privacy & Security

A quick search will tell you that consumers have a lot to say about data privacy and safety. It’s a hot topic among global professional service providers like McKinseyCisco and PwC and the trending messages are: 

  • High profile, significant, and regular data breaches have spooked consumers. 
  • Consumers generally get that they have to trade certain personal information for services, but are now warier of sharing their personal data. 
  • Consumers want to control their own data and will act to do so if they can.
  • Levels of consumer trust for brands is generally low
  • Consumers will abandon brands or delay purchases where they perceive a risk to their personal data.
  • The regulatory screws are tightening to protect consumers.

Indeed, we believe privacy will be a defining issue of this decade. 

So, that immediately gives us two big takeaways for businesses operating in today’s market: 

  1. There’s an opportunity to deliver consumer applications with privacy at their core.
  2. There’s a responsibility to comply with tightening regulations.

Here, we look closely at the consumer space. 

First up, the 2019 Cisco Consumer Privacy Survey reports ‘privacy actives’ now make up one third of all online consumers. Privacy actives are those who care about privacy, are willing to act to protect it, and have already done so. Cisco says privacy actives are a ‘surprisingly large’ and ‘attractive demographic’ for brands because they tend to be younger and do more shopping online.  

McKinsey’s 2020 survey of US consumers found a general lack of trust for brands across all industries, and levels of trust differed by industry. It reports consumers are becoming more careful about where and with whom they share their personal data and are more likely to share it with health care and financial services providers during what they perceive as a ‘necessary transaction’. Consumer-packaged goods and media and entertainment industries rated lowest on trust (10 per cent), and retail didn’t fare much better (18 per cent). 

On top of all that, about half of the McKinsey respondents said they are more likely to trust companies that ask for minimal personal information and only information related to the product they’re purchasing. They also are more likely to trust brands that don’t collect passive data (e.g. browsing history), and those that promote privacy within their products. 

Drilling further, McKinsey quotes Pew Research Centre in saying two thirds of US Internet users agree emails (content and correspondents) should remain private between sender and recipient. Many also believe it’s ‘very important’ that location data, content of downloaded files, browsing and search history, content and use of chatrooms and groups, and apps and programs used remain private. 

Globally, consumer use of products that enable proactive protection of one’s own data is growing, including ad blocking software (more than 600 million devices globally use it), web browsers with built-in cookie blockers, and incognito browsers (used by more than 40 percent of internet users globally). 

Most major research into consumer sentiment on data privacy agrees consumers are willing to abandon brands that don’t take the issue seriously. Pew Research recently reported 81 percent of Americans believe widespread data collection and data-driven products and services pose more risks than benefits. Eighty-seven percent of McKinsey respondents said they’d not do business with companies where they had doubts over data safety, and 71 percent said they would stop doing business with a company if it gave away sensitive data without permission.

Of course, there’s a lot more to the research but, clearly, as data risks heighten and consumer concerns grow, businesses have no choice but to act. It’s more a matter of when not if. Taken seriously, data privacy and safety offer an opportunity for brands to parlay a key differentiator and to gain a competitive advantage. Indeed, Harvey Jung, Cisco’s Chief Privacy Officer and Counsel says, ‘Privacy is a business imperative and ethical responsibility – not just a compliance requirement.’  

What can you do?

Here are three ideas that might help your brand: 

Decide that data privacy will be your brand’s competitive advantage

The 2020 PwC Trusted Tech report puts it like this: brands that get consumer trust and safety right will disrupt the market. In fact, nine out of 10 business leaders said that building and maintaining customer trust will be the competitive advantage of this decade. 

The Harvard Business Review recently argued that the ‘low profile’ approach to consumer data privacy—‘name data protection officers, ask customers for consent (as called for by the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR), and provide roughly the same levels of privacy protections as your competitors, at the minimum possible cost’—may be short-sighted. It’s time to go further and walk the talk. 

Make data privacy and safety a core brand value

The ‘privacy actives’ reported by Cisco see respect for privacy as central to the brands with whom they want to do business. Brands that take conscious, positive steps to protect their customers’ privacy and safety and put privacy tools in their hands will come out the winners

Build the products that consumers want

Leading brands are already building ‘privacy by design’ into consumer applications, and delivering products and services that offer security and privacy by default. You can too. 

By leveraging Sudo Platform, you can:

  • put market-leading privacy tools for communications, collaboration, and commerce right into your customers hands
  • give your customers control over their personal data and empower them with unprecedented privacy and safety. 

You can also address the consumer concerns we found in the research and outlined in this article:

  1. Consumers are more likely to trust companies that ask for minimal personal information and only information related to the product they’re purchasing.
  2. Consumers are more likely to trust brands that don’t collect passive data (e.g. browsing history), and those that promote privacy within their products. 
  3. Consumers think it’s very important to keep private a range of data including the content and correspondents of their email, their location data, the content of downloaded files, and their browsing and search history. 
  4. Consumers want to take charge of their privacy and are increasing their use of enabling tools. A great example of this type of tool is Anonyome Labs’ MySudo privacy app, the world’s only all-in-one privacy solution, which we built using Sudo Platform capabilities. 

If you’d like to get started with Sudo Platform, we’d love to hear from you. Talk to us today.

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