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91% of US consumers object to data collection without disclosure

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A rather pointed report has been published by the University of Pennsylvania that looks to debunk the idea that US consumers are happy to give up their personal data in exchange for value from an online property. The report is titled "THE TRADEOFF FALLACY: How Marketers Are Misrepresenting American Consumers And Opening Them Up to Exploitation."

So, we’ve established that perhaps the researchers aren’t exactly on board when it comes to marketers’ use of consumer data. What do consumers think? It turns out that:

It depends on how you ask

91% of survey respondents disagree with the statement “If companies give me a discount, it is a fair exchange for them to collect information about me without my knowing.” (Emphasis ours -Ed.) No one is going to agree with secret activities and no marketers actually do this, so this question is a bit spurious and seems to indicate the researchers’ biases rather than anything illustrative of the US consumer.

Consumers not well informed

It is scary how uninformed consumers are about data collection, especially how it relates to scammers and phishing attacks. 43% actually agreed with the statement that “Banks often send their customers emails that ask them to click on a link wanting them to verify their account.” It’s no wonder that phishing is still so popular among hackers.

Buy-in not strong

Even neutral questions resulted in negative answers in the study. For example 55% of survey respondents disagree with the statement “It’s OK if a store where I shop uses information it has about me to create a picture of me that improves the services they provide for me.”

Finally, it turns out that health information is very important to consumers. 43% accepted the trade off of discounts from a supermarket in exchange for personal information (such as a loyalty card membership), however only 19% still accepted the tradeoff (81% rejected) when they were told that the supermarket would use the information to determine the health status of someone in the family.
While we may disagree with the arguments made by the researchers, this data does show how important it is to educate your visitors on your data collection policies and to do it in plain language to keep them informed.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

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