UK consumers in the dark on data

14 August 2013

LONDON: Consumer awareness is falling of the extent to which brands collect data about them and their activities to use in marketing campaigns, a new study has revealed.

The UK 2013 Data Nation survey, from the consultancy Deloitte, based on a survey of 2,006 representative teenagers and adults in April 2013, found that 35% of respondents said they were "fully aware" that their online data trail could be so utilised. This was, however, ten points lower than a similar survey in 2012.

A further 45% were "aware but not in detail" while 19% were not aware or did not know.

Peter Gooch, privacy practice leader at Deloitte, told Computer Weekly: "[People are] more aware that something is happening with their data, but they don't know what that is and there is increased nervousness."

His comments were echoed by Harvey Lewis, research director in Deloitte"s analytics unit, who said the public was "still not confident in how companies use and handle their personal data".

That is perhaps not surprising when, as the report estimated, privacy policies take an average of 25 minutes to read. Deloitte suggested that there was scope for making such information "an integral part of a more transparent and ongoing customer engagement approach".

"Organisations need to make it easier for individuals to understand why this information is collected and what benefit they will receive," Lewis advised in comments reported by Marketing Week.

"Businesses are more likely to get maximum benefit from data if every customer interaction is based on the principles of transparency, trust and informed dialogue," he argued.

A distinct generation gap was evident in consumer attitudes and behaviour. Younger generations tended to be the more prolific generators of data, with Generation Y leaving an average number of 5.1 digital trails compared to 2.5 for the over 65s.

Generations Z and Y, along with the over-65s, were more likely to perceive companies to have little or no information about them, with Baby Boomer the most cynical in this regard.

Data sourced from Deloitte, Computer Weekly, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staf