LONDON: As companies scramble to prepare for GDPR – now less than 100 days away – a new study suggests that an important change in consumer attitudes to data and privacy is taking place.

Data privacy: What the consumer really thinks contains the results of an online survey of 1,047 UK respondents, undertaken by Foresight Factory for the DMA.

This revealed that more than half (51%) viewed data as essential to the smooth running of the modern economy – a sharp increase from 38% in 2012, the first time the DMA carried out such research.

And this was mirrored by a rise in the proportion of consumers who appeared relatively unconcerned about matters of data privacy and the exchange of data, up from 16% to 25% over the same period.

Younger respondents were even more relaxed about privacy and readier to share data, with 38% falling into this ‘Data Unconcerned’ group.

The proportion of people who are ‘Data Pragmatists’ has remained broadly static at around half of the UK population (50%), with these consumers willing to share their personal information in exchange for clear benefit or enhancement of services.

The survey found greater willingness among young respondents to view data as a tradeable asset that they can use to negotiate better prices and offers. More than six-out-of-ten (61%) in the 18-24 age group viewed their data in this way, compared with 56% among all respondents.

There remains a hard core of ‘Data Fundamentalists’, but these have fallen from 31% in 2012 to 24% in 2015 and 25% in 2017.

More generally, six in ten (61%) consumers were happy with the amount of personal information they shared.

The report further noted that attitudes have changed most among 55-64 year-olds who have historically been more cautious about these matters: 63% said they are happy with the amount of data they share today, compared to 47% in 2012.

Critically, 88% cited transparency as one of the keys to further increasing trust in how their data is collected and used.

While there is growing acceptance and awareness of the use and role of data in modern societies, the DMA observed that this had not been matched by a growing level of comfort among consumers about exchanging personal data with industry.

It is, it suggested, “a further indicator that becoming more aware and accepting of the data economy does not necessarily lead to proactive and positive engagement”.

Sources from DMA; additional content by WARC staff