LONDON: Two thirds of UK consumers are likely to avoid a service or decline to buy a product if they are asked to share their personal information, according to a new survey.

Professional services firm EY polled 2,000 consumers and 784 senior business leaders and found that consumers were becoming increasingly cautious about sharing data following a series of high-profile breaches of security.

"Over the last five years, consumers have adopted a careful attitude to what personal data they share with businesses," Steve Wilkinson, EY UK and Ireland managing partner, told City AM.

More than 55% were now less willing to share such information, a change he described as "a fundamental shift in attitudes and practices towards how consumers treat their personal data."

That had implications for advertising business models used by the likes of Google and Facebook, as the amount of detailed customer information collected shrank.

Some 41% of survey respondents said they 'rarely' or 'never' shared their personal information with companies. Just 3% said they 'always' did so, reported Information Age.

And people appeared even more sensitive about sharing data on social networks, with just 1% of respondents happy to share personal information across any social media website.

One third (32%) said they restricted all access to this material, while a similar proportion (31%) restricted access depending on the particular site being used.

Despite, or perhaps because of, this greater awareness of the value of their personal information, many consumers were prepared to share such data if they could benefit in some way. Over one third (35%) sharing it were happy for companies to use it to target them with special offers or recommendations, while 30% would do so to help develop new products and services.

EY suggested that businesses needed to come up with more innovative ways to engage with consumers in order to justify the sharing of data.

"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," concluded Wilkinson.

Data sourced from CityAM, Information Age; additional content by Warc staff