80% of UK Consumers Concerned About How Their Data Is Used

Most UK consumers are concerned about the fate of data they share online. They want to know why their data is being collected, who uses it, how, when and where. And enterprises which show their customer advocacy and commitment to privacy have great benefits to reap. . .

Data is the lifeblood of enterprises. And it is especially so in this digital era ushered and accelerated by the pandemic. Everyone needs it. Most of them get it. But few can comprehensively account for how it’s used. That concerns a vast majority of consumers in the UK, as new research conducted by privacy-first search platform Motive.co reveals.  

But this isn’t a story of doom and gloom. Instead, we’d like to show how this is surprisingly good news for all enterprises. Enterprises which can demonstrate their commitment to transparency, responsible data use and customer advocacy can experience a great windfall. Succinctly put, with great data availability comes great responsibility.    

What the Research Revealed:

80% of consumers are concerned about how their data is being used when they are online. And 95% of the respondents stated that they feel it’s important that their data is protected. This reveals a growing awareness among consumers about their data privacy.  

But aren’t consumers satisfied with GDPR and other data privacy policies? After all, they stringently regulate how companies use consumer data. But take the largest and most comprehensive data privacy policy conceived in the world: the GDPR. It is not as complete as most would imagine. Many grey areas are still being clarified; many details are being added in, as indicated by these industry leaders. Here’s Jakub Lewandowski, Legal Director and Global Data Governance Officer at Commvault:  

“[However] for all the good to have come from GDPR, actually, there are still problems that are yet to be solved. Primarily, the simplifying and clarifying of responsibilities around cross border data transfers. Perhaps now the UK Government will try to address this by creating a more favourable environment for companies operating in the data sector to drive competitiveness?”   

Consumers Don’t Just Want to Be Told, They Also Want to Be Shown   

The same research revealed that 83% of Brits are still worried — despite privacy policies — about their data being tracked, captured and sold on to advertisers even when accepting a website’s consent banner and privacy policy.  Why wouldn’t they be?  

According to a leaked internal document from Facebook, the social media giant “has no idea where all of its user data goes, or what it’s doing with it”.

This opaqueness of data usage corresponds perfectly with the anxiety that consumers feel. The top 5 places online where consumers felt their data was at most risk were as follows: 

  1. Social Media (72%)
  2. Browsing the Web (51%)  
  3. Instant Messaging Apps (39%) 
  4. E-commerce Websites (33%) 
  5. News Sites (21%)  

Naturally, consumers are preferring adblockers, finding creative workarounds through cookie-free browsing like Brave and search engines like DuckDuckGo. But why should they? The onus is not on the consumer. It’s on the enterprise.  

By putting the customer interests first, they can not only win (back) their trust, but they can also make a real social impact and grow as an organisation.

What Can Enterprises Do About It

The book Beyond Self Interest: Why the Market Rewards Those Who Reject It by Krzysztof Pelc, Professor of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, makes a persuasive and powerful argument.  For rejecting self-interest as the basis for business, and embracing a mission-oriented, customer-first approach. He magnificently upends Adam Smith’s thesis, which has been the canon for more than three centuries.  

This should give business leaders some idea of how they can deal with data. By putting the customer interests first, they can not only win (back) their trust, but they can also make a real social impact and grow as an organisation. But how specifically can they do this?  

Create and Participate in a Data Economy

The point argued above is more than a mere thesis. It was recently proven by the Sandbox Initiative. Founded by Experian, Meta, Publicis Group, and BNP Paribas, the initiative showed how by applying the 5 key principles of responsibility, transparency, control, convenience and value, businesses were able to make consumers share more of their data. In response, these consumers were rewarded with products and services that they would otherwise not have received. It made a real impact on their lives, especially for those living in poverty.   

Central to the initiative was the idea of data economy. The ability and freedom to transfer data across enterprises. Legitimately. Legally. And most importantly, for the benefit of the customer.  

Embrace Personalisation as the New Norm

The idea of personalisation has been around for a long time. But it’s true power is being realised by enterprises only recently. Real personalisation doesn’t simply provide consumers with meaningless add-ons and close-to-the-till frills. It provides them with new ways to create value for themselves. And this is only possible with data.  

In this Adobe Trust Report. Consumers, almost unanimously, reported that they are more likely to trust brands that personalises their content in way described above. How can you do this?  

1. Embrace adblockers; they’re your friends:
Most ads are intrusive, irrelevant or both. Period. That’s why no one wants to see them. The new way of advertising is to weave it organically into meaningful and contextually relevant content. This means, you’ll have to work closely with content creators. Whether internal or external.

2. Let go off 3rd Party Cookies; meet First-Party Data:
It’s hard work, we know. 3rd party cookies have been around since the time of Netscape Navigator. But they’ve outlived their purpose. Besides, you can do a lot more with first party data. Here’s a guide from CX pioneers Sitecore, on how you can get started.    

3. Embed data into your enterprise’s value stream:
You can embed data into every part of your enterprise’s value stream, from sourcing of materials all the way to delivery to customers and even beyond. By creating a more sustainable enterprise, you will win your consumer’s trust.  

But these are merely suggestions for you to get started. The point of all your initiatives should always be to reject self-interest in favour of a more cooperative model, one which always puts the customer first. This is the only way forward for enterprises.