McCann Truth Central Discovers That Privacy Represents the Biggest Opportunity for Marketers Today

The way in which brands facilitate responsible sharing will set them apart from the competition

Oct 18, 2011, 16:06 ET from McCann Worldgroup

NEW YORK, Oct. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- McCann Truth Central today released the findings of The Truth about Privacy, a quantitative study of 6525 global consumers conducted in July 2011 across 6 markets -- UK, USA, Hong Kong, Japan, India and Chile.  The data was then investigated qualitatively in 12 global markets.  The study set out to understand what privacy means to the average consumer, if privacy concerns differ according to the type of data and how marketers can cultivate responsible sharing.

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What emerged was a new understanding of the privacy issue:  yes, consumers are concerned about "Privacy", but "privacy" is a complex, multi-dimensional issue that encompasses everything from personal, real-world snooping to sharing data online.  Further, when it comes to data sharing one must unpack the issue even further as consumers categorize data into different categories, e.g. shopping, location, personal, medical, and financial, and have varying degrees of concern with sharing each type.  In fact, 71% of consumers indicate they are willing to share shopping data with a brand online.  86% of consumers see that there are major benefits associated with sharing data with businesses online, and 65% see one of the top two benefits as better access to discounts and promotions.  

Laura Simpson, Global Director of McCann Truth Central, said of the study, "Our study unpacks the issue and lays out the hierarchy of privacy concerns and the spectrum of attitudes toward sharing different types of data.  For example, we found that consumers are in favor of sharing shopping data with businesses in exchange for certain benefits but are more cautious about sharing financial and medical data."  She continued, "As technology makes our world more transparent, handling customer data is both a risk and an opportunity for businesses.   While the foremost concern must be to protect the data and privacy of customers, a smart strategy also encourages responsible sharing of relevant data, benefiting both the brand and the consumer."

The privacy issue is a bright spot in otherwise dark times for banks.  69% of consumers globally trust banks to look after their personal data and use it wisely.  57% hold credit card companies in the same regard.  Consumers feel that financial services brands, as a group, are doing the most to protect the privacy of their data.  Globally, the top three most trusted brands included MasterCard, Visa and Microsoft.  

Banks and other financial services brands have set themselves apart from other categories because they have consistently demonstrated a commitment to data protection.   44% of consumers in the US say that banks' security controls are one of the top three reasons why banks have earned their trust, with the other two reasons being a history of dealing responsibly with data and trust that the banks will protect them in case of fraud.

Simpson added, "Our advice for marketers?  Think like a bank."

The truths uncovered by McCann include the following:

Businesses need to understand the Privacy value equation

For all types of companies and brands, there are four key dynamics to privacy when it comes to maintaining a proactive, productive and share-worthy relationship with consumers: Control, choice, commitment and compensation are the key to assurance and trust.   People want a commitment from companies that their personal data (i.e., email address, phone number) won't be passed on to third parties.  55% (56% US) of people select this as one of their top 3 most important criteria when deciding to trust a brand. They also want a choice about how their data will be used. 51% (57% US) say it is important to know exactly how their data is going to be used. When it comes to control, people want to be in command of which pieces of data they share. 49% (55% US) think it is very important to have this control, reflecting their sensitivity level for different types of data. Consumers also want compensation. They want a reason to share data, and an understanding of how they will benefit. It's no surprise that Amazon is the most trusted brand in the US since, more than any other brand, consumers can see how they use data to make relevant suggestions.  72% of US consumers trust Amazon to look after their data and use it wisely.

This is the Brave New World of Sharing

In a world where social networking is a normal part of everyday life, consumers are required to spend more and more time managing their online brand.  Consumers around the world admitted to multiple online personalities, on the spectrum from 'virtuous me' with information suitable for family and employers to 'popular me' where they include items intended to impress friends and social acquaintances.  This becomes a challenge for brands who will need to understand which version of their consumer they are interacting with each day.

The Rise of the Savvy Shopper

Looking at the spectrum of consumer attitudes toward privacy, McCann Truth Central identified 5 distinct segments:  Eager Extroverts (15%), Sunny Sharers (20%), Savvy Shoppers (37%), Cautious Communicators (9%) and Walled Worriers (19%).  

The largest group, the Savvy Shoppers, best embody a nuanced approach to this brave new world of sharing.  They are willing to engage with businesses in exchange for commitment to security and compensation in the form of discounts or preferred status.

86% of all consumers globally understand that there are major benefits associated with sharing data with businesses online and shopping data is the type of data they are most willing to share (71% of consumers globally are willing to share shopping data with a brand online). For the majority (65%) one of the top two benefits is better access to discounts and promotions, a very "Savvy Shopper" mentality.

Privacy is a two-way street

While 84% of consumers believe they have a total or some right to privacy, only 51% believe the same applies to the government. The government, it seems, must trade privacy for power. Similarly, only 57% of consumers believe a brand or business has a right to privacy. 65% of consumers say a reality TV star has a right to privacy; the other 35% might believe that star has traded his private life for fame (and a maybe cash prize). Increasingly, governments and businesses will need to recognize that privacy is a two-way street. Consumers may be willing to share more of their personal information (in order to gain benefits) but they expect a greater degree of transparency in return.

Second only to hackers, a consumer's biggest privacy concern is her best friend

If we look at the hierarchy of privacy concerns for consumers, anything to do with financial data tops the list.  Beyond that, our fears are far more personal, often related to snooping or oversights by our friends, families and colleagues.  Technology has created a more fluid and borderless world with less distinction between "public" and "private."  McCann's Truth Central found that while people have an expectation of privacy with regard to their own life, they confess to snooping in other people's business.  42% of people admit to snooping the online personal photographs of someone they hardly knew and 25% had read a friend or partner's email or text messages without them knowing.

To download an executive summary of the study, click here:

About McCann Truth Central

McCann Truth Central is the global thought leadership unit of McCann, dedicated to discovering the truths that illuminate the world and help brands make their mark in it.

About McCann Worldgroup  

McCann Worldgroup delivers marketing solutions that transform brands and grow businesses. The company is comprised of a collaborative roster of best-in-class agencies that emphasize creativity, innovation, and performance, including McCann Erickson (the world's largest advertising agency network); MRM (digital marketing/relationship management); Momentum (event marketing/promotion); McCann Healthcare (professional/dtc communications); WGEXP (global production); UM (media management); Weber Shandwick (public relations) and FutureBrand (consulting/design).

SOURCE McCann Worldgroup