Is Consumer Trust Eroding?

New LoyaltyOne study looks at customer attitudes toward divulging personal information.

LoyaltyOne has released new loyalty findings that show when it comes to privacy, U.S. consumers are still protecting some of their personal information as much as they do their social security number.

Of the 1,000 U.S. consumers that responded to a recent online survey, 50% said they’d be willing to give a trusted company their religious affiliation, 49% their political affiliation, 49% their sexual orientation, 36% health information, 26% mental health information, 24% browsing history and 15% for both smart phone location and number of sexual partners. Last on the list is their social security number at 11%.

Toronto-based LoyaltyOne, a global provider of coalition loyalty, customer analytics and loyalty services, completed online surveys in July 2012 with 1,000 American respondents. The research is designed to test consumer attitudes about personal data collection and use by marketers.

Several of the 2012 questions followed up on a 2011 survey and were structured to measure changes in U.S. consumer sentiments over the past year. For brands intent on deepening their customer relationships, the results signal a concerning trend—  trust may be eroding.

Some key year-to-year results:
• 78% of U.S. respondents said they do not feel they receive any benefit at all from sharing information, up from 74% in 2011.

• Less than half feel that companies use their personal data to better serve the consumer, an 11% slip from 2011.

• 62% said they would share more personal data if it meant receiving relevant product and service offers, down from 66% in 2011.

“These responses point to an unmistakable trend. Marketers’ efforts to create relevant customer experiences through data need to be re-addressed or they run the risk of their efforts not resonating with customers,” said Bryan Pearson, president of LoyaltyOne and author of the book, The Loyalty Leap: Turning Customer Information Into Customer Intimacy.

“Consumers are disappointed. For years they’ve provided their valuable information, and they’re not realizing something of suitable worth in return,” Pearson said. “If businesses don’t act quickly to demonstrate they have the consumer’s best interest at heart, they risk an erosion of the business-to-consumer relationship.”

Pearson is the author of a report presenting results and insights from LoyaltyOne’s 2012 personal data collection research. The report, titled Customer Data – Privacy, Profit and the New Paradigm, is available free of charge at http://loyalty.com/knowledge/articles/2012-privacy-research.

Pearson will lead a free webinar based on the report on Oct. 10 at 1 p.m. EST. To register   https://loyaltyevents.webex.com/loyaltyevents/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=667384142.

Some other highlights from the report include:

• 27% of survey takers would give up their location via cell phone for a chance to win an iPad or weekend getaway; cash would entice more than half.

• 71% said it’s not acceptable to send baby food offers to someone who had merely purchased a pregnancy test.

The LoyaltyOne survey is a representative of true random sampling of U.S. consumers. Statistical significance is calculated at the 95% confidence level.

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