How Customers Feel About Data Collection

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MasterCard and Global Insights recently released results of a research study they did on consumer attitudes about the use of personal data in social and commercial settings.

Their conclusions, as published online, are that “Consumers are increasingly knowledgeable about the way they leverage technology to shop and surf online. They are generally informed about the online world, with more than half of consumers venturing online between five and 10 times per day. They use technology to research, interact, and bargain with retailers, both in-store and online.”

The study uncovered five online consumer personality types, or personas, based on how people feel about their data:

  1. Proactive Protectors – they only share information about themselves online when they know how it will be used
  2. Soley Shoppers – characterized by their reliance on the Internet for their shopping needs, both in product research and actual purchase
  3. Open Sharers – when they share their personal information, they expect deals, access, and offers in return.
  4. Simply Interactors – aware of targeted marketing, but don’t see their data as that valuable, and so do not express significant concern about it
  5. Passive Users – more willing than other personas to trade their data for something in return.

These personas may help to change the way that online retailers focus their marketing efforts.

In their white paper presenting the results of the study, MasterCard and Global Insights suggest that, “Rather than seek to infer demographic delineations by correlating behaviors to other factors or try to obtain that information from other databases, merchants have the opportunity to profile consumers based solely on their behaviors online. Careful observation of buying patterns, triangulated with other data sources, allows merchants to gain greater efficiency by tailoring offers to specific segments.”

 That may be true, however, this nugget, buried within the other results, seems to be the key take-away from the study:

Data collection methods strongly influence how consumers feel about sharing online. They are less comfortable when they feel they are passively “tracked,” as opposed to actively “sharing” their information. As many as 55 percent appreciate when companies tailor their offers to them based on the information they share.

Online consumers are most comfortable with data collection and personalization when they are actively sharing their information.  Rather than tracking online behavior and demographics, using a personal shopping assistant application, which openly asks customers to share their preferences, may be the best way to engage the online consumer of today.

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