Survey warns of looming consumer revolt on private data sharing

A new survey by professional services company EY has found that consumers are becoming savvier about the information they share online, but are generally happy for companies to use that information to target them personally 

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Survey: consumer revolt on private data sharing
British consumers are becoming increasingly resistent to allowing companies access to their personal information online

As a result of new legislation and increased awareness around data privacy, in five to ten years the access to customer information that businesses currently enjoy may be heavily restricted – this was the warning of a survey of 2,000 consumers and 784 senior business leaders conducted by multinational professional services firm EY last month.

Being asked to share personal information is likely to stop 63%  of consumers signing up to a new service or product or completing a purchase, with more than 55% less willing to share personal data over the past five years.

More than two fiths or 41% of consumers surveyed said they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ share their personal information with companies, while just three percent answered ‘always.’

See also: Half of UK consumers say corporate data collection is harmful

It appears that consumers' experience of using social media networks during the past five years has also had a significant effect on their attitudes to data sharing generally.

As the prominence of social media websites has continued to grow, the amount of information that people are willing to share in the public domain has sharply declined.

When it comes to using social media networks, consumers are even more sensitive about sharing their personal data with just 1% of respondents happy to share personal information across any social media website.

Almost a third of all respondents (32%) said that they restrict all access to their personal data on social media websites, while 31% said that they restrict access to data depending on the social media site being used.

But it’s not all bad news – a sizeable proportion of consumers are happy for companies to use their personal information if they benefit through more targeted marketing. In total, over a third of customers who share any personal data are happy for companies to use it to target them with special offers/recommendations (35%) or to develop new products and services (30%).

See also: Companies that lose sensitive information should be punished, say UK consumers

As customers recognise the value of their personal information and seek to protect it in new ways, the implications of this for businesses are that they need to come up with innovative ways to engage with them.

‘In the age of big data, information can be easily collected to target consumers with personalised information that helps boost brand advocacy,’ commented EY's managing partner for UK and Ireland clients.

‘Our research shows that while consumers welcome targeted information sharing requests based on careful examination of their spending habits and preferences, going to the other extreme can have the opposite effect for businesses and stop consumers from signing up to new services or completing transactions.’