Financial Operations

November 3 , 2014

Consumers worry about privacy but still willing to share data

Montreal, QC--Despite a series of recent, high-profile data breaches and consumer concerns over data collection, shoppers are still open to sharing their personal information, reveals a new survey released today by Aimia Inc.

Just how much they're willing to share, and to whom, varies greatly by industry and nationality. According to the ‘Aimia Loyalty Lens report’, when asked to rank types of businesses by the degree to which they are comfortable with those businesses handling an individual's personal data, an overwhelming majority of consumers (82 per cent) put banks in the top four (out of ten), along with supermarkets (64 per cent), mobile phone providers (56 per cent) and their places of work (50 per cent). Conversely, 65 per cent of consumers place online search engines in the bottom two of institutions they trust and 58 per cent of consumers place social networks in the bottom two.

Despite the perception that some industries are doing a better job at protecting data than others, more than half of shoppers internationally (55 per cent) are willing to share personal information with companies in exchange for relevant rewards. That willingness is uneven across international markets. Close to three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents from   India  are open to providing their personal details, compared to only one-third of more skeptical Germans (39 per cent). This may be because German consumers value their personal information the most amongst the 10 markets surveyed (36 per cent versus 29 per cent internationally).

"Consumers are increasingly required to trust companies to handle their personal details," says   David Johnston, group chief operating officer, Aimia Inc. "Transparency about how data is being collected and used will become a key differentiator for businesses going forward. Those that are clear and offer a better customer experience by how they use that information will build greater trust and loyalty."

Avoiding creepiness

However, there is a fine line between providing a customized experience and coming across as just plain creepy.

With the data that retailers now have, they can greet each customer by name. But knowing the particularities of the local market matter. In   France, 47 per cent say they're not comfortable when supermarket cashiers address them by name, while in the   Middle East  46 per cent see it as perfectly fine. Meanwhile, 66 per cent of Canadians are put off by supermarkets that send coupons to their mobile phones, while 52 per cent of residents in   India  are quite comfortable with it. The same applies when supermarkets follow up by phone or email after making a purchase. More than half (57 per cent) of Americans see the follow-up gesture as going too far, compared to only one in three (34 per cent) of those in the   Middle East.

Similar variances occur when it comes to the travel and leisure sector. While over half of consumers in   Australia  (56 per cent) are comfortable being called by their names by airlines, only 33 per cent of Italians are comfortable with the gesture. When it comes to follow-up calls and emails once a purchase has been made, 39 per cent of consumers internationally appreciate the gesture by airlines, but in the UK, 38 per cent are uncomfortable with the practice.

"With today's technological advances, companies have the ability to truly understand consumers – from what we like to eat, to where we like to shop, to even our names. But it's important for businesses to know when and where it's appropriate to use this information to engage consumers, and that it varies significantly by industry and nationality. The companies that win will be the ones that listen to their consumers' preferences and use data accordingly to build mutually beneficial relationships," Johnston says.

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • The number one driver behind loyalty to supermarkets is being rewarded for that loyalty (22 per cent) with price coming in second at 17 per cent. In contrast, the top driver at banks is longevity of service, with rewards coming only in fifth place.

  • Not all rewards are created equal. For many institutions – including supermarkets (36 per cent) and banks (50 per cent) – getting cash back is king. But for airlines, 69 per cent prefer either loyalty currency or exclusive discounts and for hotels it's 57 per cent.

  • New forms of information are now becoming as sacred as or more sacred than personal data that have traditionally been kept private. When it comes to the information consumers protect the most, web history and income top the list with 39 per cent and 30 per cent respectively stating they would never share such information. That's compared with 29 per cent who would never share their mobile phone number and 23 per cent who would never reveal their online purchases.

The report looked at trends around consumer loyalty to industries, engagement with technology and attitudes towards data privacy. For additional findings, visit





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