The biggest trends in 2022 Show me

Have you landed on a website recently and consented to its privacy policy without really reading it? Or reluctantly signed up to a digital offer?

If so, you’re not alone. 

According to our Zeitgeist research – fielded in the UK, US, France, Germany, and Italy – just 30% of us regularly read website privacy policies. And yet, over 70% of us are typically giving our consent.

Whichever way you cut it, that means a lot of consumers are giving “uninformed consent”.

 This is especially true among younger, lower income, and urban demographics where concerns about sharing are slightly less impactful over behaviors.

Why consumers aren’t sharing their data

It’s just one example of how the current value proposition for sharing personal information needs to improve. We worry about fraud. We don’t want to receive marketing. We fear losing control. 

Just 1 in 5 of us think that we, as consumers, see benefit from sharing our own information. 

Ultimately, we lack confidence about how our data is being used and protected, and we lack understanding about the benefits we could gain and the value we should be receiving. 

It’s against this landscape that we’ve been a research partner for the Customer Journey Sandbox initiative run by Datum Future – a cross-sector “do-tank” advancing a people-centered data economy. 

Its Sandbox Poverty Premium Use Case explores how value propositions, built on responsible data sharing, can empower people in poverty to better access essential services. 

More broadly, the Sandbox explores the steps that need to be taken by businesses to improve the customer journey and create new data-led value propositions that help people build confidence in using their data to access tangible benefits.

The question is: could personal data sharing lead to material, relevant benefits for consumers? 

Moreover, could improved journeys, which put the customer in control and help build confidence in how their data is used, lead to material changes in people‘s sentiments and behaviors? 

Now for the good news. Even the most reluctant of consumers appear open to value propositions that are transparent and bring them benefits.

Identifying the ideal environments for consumers to share

Within our Zeitgeist research, we tested interest in a range of scenarios where a consumer might be asked to give information to a third party. 

Think of an insurance provider wanting data about your health, a utility provider requesting data on your past payment history, or a credit card provider being interested in your bank statements.

At face value, interest in such propositions is relatively muted; across all demographics and countries, it was rarely more than a third who would consider sharing their information in these situations. In some cases, the numbers were much lower.

But when we then asked people if they would consider sharing data in return for clear benefits, the numbers jumped. 

Almost half were positive about this, with another third being neutral, suggesting they could be amenable to the right proposition if it was relevant, transparent and valuable, and allowed them to retain control. 

In those specific scenarios we tested, we saw strong uplifts once clear benefits were added into the mix. 

The biggest attitudinal shift was for sharing bank statements, which rose 22 points to score about the same as the other pieces of data. Clearly, this was information people were particularly (and understandably) resistant about sharing but, in the right context and for the right benefit, they would consider it.

Particularly striking in our research is that relevant value propositions – which address customer needs and offer clear incentives – had universal appeal across all demographics and countries. 

Yes, there are some stand-out groups where the appetite is strongest, especially among urban and higher income segments. But these propositions appeal to all ages, gender identities, incomes, family stages, and locations.

Where we do see considerable variation is in the type of exchange or benefit that would resonate. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s here that things get very individual: different segments are interested in different benefits, and are willing to share different data sets. There can be no one-size-fits-all approach here.

As some examples, Gen Z and millennials are very open to sharing their personal information but the most reluctant at disclosing their credit card data. Flexible payment options aren’t of interest to higher income groups, but generated a very strong response from those in lower income segments. Parents showed the strongest urge to retain control of their data. Students want to share their education or loan records, but not other types of data.

What we’re seeing here is the importance of context: understanding which benefits will resonate, but also which pieces of data people are likely to want to share – and that’s very closely connected to their day-to-day life. They want to share information that they think proves their reliability, but the nature of that information will vary from group to group. 

Considering the case of full-time workers vs full-time parents is a good example: both sets see appeal in all of the benefits, but full-time parents are resistant to sharing any of the data types we asked about, except for their payment history with streaming services. Why? I’d suggest it’s because this is where they feel most in control, most on a level playing field, and most likely to have this easily accessible.

The outlook for personal data sharing in 2022

There were some caveats in our findings. Hygiene factors abound in terms of what people would expect in order to contemplate sharing personal information. 

They want to provide their data themselves, not have companies access it directly.  

Absolutely no-one wanted the data to be used for any purpose but the one described, with a particular concern about it not being used for advertising (a clear sign that it’s important for people to retain control and know the context). 

And, generally, money talks: discounts or cheaper rates were by far the most popular benefit, even among the higher income segments.

Even so, the opportunity here is clear. 

Currently, most consumers feel disenfranchised in terms of personal data and are reluctant sharers. 

But a majority are open to benefit-driven value propositions which are tailored to address their circumstances and needs, and put them in control. And that’s a clear invitation for businesses seeking to build confidence and loyalty with their customers to collaborate and innovate new journeys that work better for people. 

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Written by

Jason is Chief Research Officer at GWI. He's the main man who leads our global team of analysts, delivering world-renowned research. He's an in-demand data junkie who you might see popping up on your telly screens every so often to show you what's actually happening in the lives of consumers.

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