Provide privacy or perish: WE study

Consumer understanding of data privacy is more sophisticated than ever, and brands should step up their game on protection, according to WE’s Brands in Motion study.

Data privacy has been a wild west for more than 15 years. But as consumer awareness around data privacy increases, so does the unease around it. The issue is no longer about keeping information secure, it is an opportunity for businesses to take more proactive steps to communicate users about their privacy, protection, and security mandates. 

WE Communications ran its fifth Brands in Motion global study themed ‘The Privacy Mandate’. The study ran in seven global markets including four in APAC: Australia, India, Singapore, and China, as well as the U.S. and U.K.

The survey was done in partnership with YouGov on more than 5,000 consumers and B2B decision-makers. It found that a whopping 97 per cent of respondents feel strongly about data privacy.  Seventy three per cent are of the opinion that their digital footprint is used to target or re-target ads which makes the user experience better, but they deeply value transparency in the whole process. And 65 per cent of people want a comprehensive picture of how their data is gathered, as well as control over how it’s used and shared with third parties. 

Establishing a clear data lineage should become crucial to the marketing strategy because nearly nine out of 10 consumers will take the tough stance of snapping ties with businesses and brands on their privacy and confidentiality standpoint. 

Pandemic moved lives online, privacy laws stayed behind 

2020 was a pivotal moment in privacy. Even the most pragmatic users who earlier avoided sites which invaded privacy, gave up to stay connected. Lives upended—from shopping to groceries, work to school, health records to contact tracing—the push to online exposed consumer information in a barely regulated digital ecosystem. Interestingly, the WE study finds that digital dependence during the pandemic educated people on privacy trade-offs. 

Sixty nine per cent of respondents in the survey know that brands use their data to refine their marketing strategy and create personalised content; while they appreciate a better user experience, they want more openness and clarity on how personal data is handled by different corporations. Full disclosure, transparency and trust are critical for building lasting trust.

“To thrive in the new normal, brands must exhibit bold leadership, foster deep trust and have the courage to use data to do more than simply market themselves more effectively,” says WE’s APAC regional technology lead Sara Pereira.  

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