Consumer data: Pass control of data to the customer

Marie Stafford and Elizabeth Cherian
J. Walter Thompson

Control over personal data is now ranked third among consumers' needs from brands, according to a new global study. Mistrust of the permissions required to enable interaction with branded content is rife. Brands need to respond with transparency, empathy and genuine collaboration that allow users to control their data sharing.

Consumers today are said to be co-creators and producers, ready to hack your brand to their own design. Brands are advised to hand over control if they want to keep their customers engaged. But reality is different. Consumers aren't clamouring for control over brand communications, products or services. What they really want is more control over how companies use their data.

As part of its forthcoming trend forecast report Control Shift., J. Walter Thompson London's Innovation Group ( has recently run a global survey asking consumers what they would like to control when it comes to brands. Polling people from China, South Korea, India, Turkey, the UK, Brazil and the US, the survey offered respondents a range of twenty options covering price and rewards, customer service, ethics and more. The results show that the desire for creative influence over the brand, product and communications is not top of the consumer agenda (Figure 1). Alongside those perennial titans of price and discounts, it is management of their personal data that completes our ranking of the top three things on which consumers around the world want to have their say.