We’re all individuals; we all value personal relationships; we’re all impressed by great, personalised service.
But today, as we interact, socialise and buy more in the digital space, our ability to enjoy high standards of personalisation is at risk. Extreme views and misconceptions around data and especially its use for marketing purposes are threatening to seriously curtail marketers’ abilities to deliver great personalisation and a great customer experience.
“Misconceptions around data, especially its use for marketing purposes are threatening to seriously curtail marketers’ ability to deliver great personalisation and a great customer experience.”
So, what must we consider if our audiences are to not only gain a more balanced view of consumer data; but understand how it’s used for marketing purposes and to their benefit?
GDPR is of course a stand-out consideration. So how will GDPR – and Brexit – impact UK data personalisation?
What Impact Will GDPR and Brexit Have?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted in April 2016, promising great harmonisation of regulations across the EU. Generally welcomed as the guidance to follow, the detail around how the new regulations should be applied is of increasing importance for brands and consumers as GDPR will be enforced across the EU from May 2018.
However, in a referendum on the 23 June 2016, the British public voted to leave the European Union. The digital minister has made assurances that the UK will be following the GDPR principles following its withdrawal, to ensure effective flow of information between European countries. He has also discussed the development of further data exchange structures to protect and facilitate data flows between the UK and other countries with ‘high-quality data protection regimes’.
As the implications and details of Brexit unfold, these moves are all crucial in order to support business interests between the UK, EU countries, and beyond. However, challenges still remain around data, specifically in wider attitudes and perceptions of data, personalisation and usage.
Why Are People Still Concerned About Personal Data Use?
“The root of many individual concerns about data and its use hinges on privacy… nowhere is the consumer backlash more vicious where an individual’s data has been shared or sold in ways they would not reasonably expect.”
Data is neither inherently good nor bad. Handled carefully and put to good use it greatly enhances our lives. However if it’s misused or abused, the consequences can be serious.
Understanding Current Attitudes Towards Data Use
Before discussing the issue of data and its use in modern business and marketing infrastructure, security has to be addressed. Without a fundamental promise of security and respectful usage – of any form of data shared between organisations or individuals – the trust exchange collapses. The baseline for security and consumer privacy must be correctly set for all uses of personal data. We as marketers must keep data safe, secure and operating both within the letter and the spirit of the law. We must be transparent about how we collect and use data, and we must be responsive to questions whether raised by regulators or the public.
The root of many individual concerns about data and its use hinges on privacy, and nowhere is the consumer backlash more vicious than in cases where an individual’s data has been shared or sold in ways they would not reasonably expect.
So why are some people concerned about the use of personal data? It’s natural really, given news stories and increasing consumer awareness of personal data as we generate increasing amounts of data across our many and varied devices.
As a 2015 study (What the Consumer Really Thinks’) by the DMA (UK) and Future Foundation found, despite concerns, clearly there is somewhat of a shift in attitude as consumers expect responsible use of data:
- An increasing 73% of people expect organisations to use data to improve service
- The number of people who claim that the exchange of personal data is essential for the smooth running of modern society has risen from 38% in 2012 to 47% in 2015.
- The number of respondents who claim that online privacy is a significant concern has decreased from 84% in 2012 to 79% in 2015.
- The number of people who are happy with the amount of personal information they share with organisations has risen steadily since 2012, with almost 60% agreeing that “On the whole I am happy with the amount of personal information I give to organisations these days”.
The research also segmented individuals into three categories, according to the terms of their attitudes to data use. According to the report:
- 54% of the population are pragmatists, up from 53% in 2012. This means they are prepared to allow the use of data, so long as it delivers value to them and is properly managed.
- 22% are unconcerned, up from 16% in 2012. The unconcerned are very laissez-faire in their views, relatively unconcerned with how their data is being used.
- 24% are fundamentalists, down from 31% in 2012. Fundamentalists are very suspicious of the use of their data, and want to see it more limited and regulated.
Clearly, if marketers are to achieve great levels of data personalisation, through GDPR and Brexit and beyond, they must prioritise trust through data transparency and responsible usage.
How Will GDPR Impact Future Perspectives?
In many respects, the bottom line is that data is increasingly accepted as part of the modern world, but consumers expect to see value from it. Many in the marketing industry would argue that consumers already benefit in far more ways than they generally appreciate and that if the availability of data were to be significantly reduced, the consumer would notice the adverse effect, e.g. completely random digital advertising.
Regarding GDPR and Brexit, it will be interesting to see what effect GDPR, particularly a post Brexit version of GDPR, has on these groups. Will this new privacy law with its greater checks and balances give people more confidence to share their information, or will it cause people to share less, almost in collusion with the more restrictive law?
On balance, we believe that perspectives will continue to shift towards pragmatism and away from more fundamental views, as consumers will see more legislation and enforcement to protect them; whether they seek to appreciate that in detail (as some fundamentalists are likely to), or in general through high-level news coverage.