GLOBAL: The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force last Friday and, with so much attention focused on how companies make use of personal data, a new global survey has found that most consumers take a pragmatic approach to the issue.

According to the Global Alliance of Data-Driven Marketing Associations (GDMA), at least half (51%) of consumers across ten global markets are what it describes as “data pragmatists”.

These are people who are happy to share their personal data with businesses on a case-by-case basis and as long as there are clear benefits for them in doing so.

However, their number varies across the markets surveyed, ranging from just 39% in the Netherlands and 40% in Germany to almost three-in-five in Spain (59%), the US (58%) and Singapore (57%).

That is one of the headline findings from the GDMA’s Global data privacy: What the consumer really thinks report, which was conducted in partnership with the UK’s Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Acxiom, a data analytics firm.

On their behalf, research firm Foresight Factory conducted an online survey in November 2017 of 11,000 consumers across ten key global markets – Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the US.

In addition to those identified as “data pragmatists”, the study found a quarter of global consumers (26%) have little concern about how their data is collected and used, and they are described as “data unconcerned”.

Interestingly, in markets where the number of data pragmatists is notably lower, there is a corresponding increase in the proportion of data unconcerned.

For example, in Germany and the Netherlands, where there is a relatively smaller population of data pragmatists, over a third of consumers are data unconcerned.

A third group, dubbed “data fundamentalists”, account for just under a quarter (23%) of global consumers and these are people who are unwilling to provide personal information even in return for service enhancement.

Again, their numbers vary, with just 17% of Singaporean consumers and 16% of Argentinians falling into this bracket compared with a quarter of American, Canadian, British and French consumers.

Elsewhere, the survey found that an average of 41% of consumers understand that sharing data is an essential part of the smooth running of modern society.

In addition, 38% believe they should have ultimate responsibility for their data security instead of government institutions (15%) or businesses (5%).

And this sense of personal responsibility is felt most strongly in Germany (49%), Australia (46%) and the UK (46%), while respondents in Spain (24%) and the Netherlands (23%) believe government should take the lead.

“Our research shows that consumer attitudes are changing in a positive way that makes us optimistic,” said Chris Combemale, GDMA board member and CEO of the DMA.

“Overall, people understand the value in sharing their personal data as part of a modern economy. But, as we move forward, it will be a challenge to see how businesses can capitalise on this positive consumer attitude and ensure that consumers’ relationship with the data economy does not end with a reluctant acceptance of its existence.”

Sourced from GDMA; additional content by WARC staff