REDMOND, WA: Brands need to offer consumers clear benefits and transparency over the use of their data in order to close a significant "sharing gap", research from Microsoft has shown.

The tech giant undertook a global survey covering 13 markets and more than 13,000 respondents for its bi-annual Digital Trends report, from which the "Value Me" research was taken.

This revealed a 17-percentage point gap between the types of data consumers consciously shared with brands and the types of data they believed brands collected without their explicit consent.

For many consumers, the data debate centres around privacy and maintaining control of personal information. But that is slowly starting to change, according to Natasha Hritzuk, senior director/global consumer insights at Microsoft.

"We are transitioning from a privacy focus to a sharing focus ... Consumers previously had a lack of understanding on how sharing data could benefit them, but now have a more intuitive and emotive relationship with technology," she explained.

"Consumers are aware of the value of their data and, importantly for marketers, are open to sharing this data with brands provided there is a fair exchange."

The study also revealed the differences in the various types of personal data consumers are willing to share, with basic demographics such as age (63%) topping the list.

Consumers are also open to sharing their purchase history (63%), but draw the line at biometric information, including fingerprints and facial recognition (10%).

"Brands need to continuously reinforce what information is being collected and how it is being used," Hritzuk advised.

"Consumers are much more demanding when it comes to the benefits they derive from brands' use of personal data, but there are huge opportunities for brands willing to meet these demands."

The most desirable benefits included cash rewards (65%) and "significant discounts" (51%). Non-monetary exchanges were further down the list: 29% would exchange their data for more streamlined processes, for example.

Microsoft's research also indicated that advertising is an expected "cost" that consumers prefer to incur instead of a monthly or one-off fee.

One third (33%) would try a new data-powered service and see more ads in return, while around one quarter (27%) would opt to give more information about themselves rather than pay for services.

Data sourced from Microsoft; additional content by Warc staff